A couple weeks back I posted about a design concept for a modern Italian Restaurant. ‘Member? Here’s the post if you missed it. I’m calling this hip downtown Italian eatery The Blue Madonna and the concept is inspired by Italian-American suburbia and Roman-Catholic iconography.
Below is the mood board I put together to visualize the overall concept:
But I couldn’t stop there…so I sketched out a (very) rough floor plan. This gets me thinking about the space in reality and how the different zones – dining, bar, bathrooms, courtyard, reception – would play out. Check the layout I’m envisioning below:
Once I got my bearings in the space, I could start to think about the materials in each of the zones, starting with the flooring. Here’s a look at the finish floor plan showing the chosen materials:
In the main reception and dining room areas painted white, unpolished concrete brings rich ‘lived in’ texture without crowding the eye. In the bar area: same material, but painted an icy stone blue, reminiscent of stucco on suburban buildings.
A faux-grass walkway brings the suburban landscape indoors and leads the patron from the front entrance back to the bathrooms and into the courtyard.
Let’s take a walk through the space, looking at some of the furnishings and finishes.
Nonna’s living room, turnt up. Vintage faux marble wallpaper, a pair of peach velour sofas joined by an inflatable terrarium stool, reproduced and enlarged to function as a cocktail table. Can we talk about these gorgeous babies for a second and how I need to have one in my living room as soon as possible? They are just incredible. Cute little mcm legs supporting an inflatable plastic poof, filled with carefully arranged plastic flowers. So much kitschy awesomeness I can’t even stand it.
The space is punctuated by a statement chandelier – a vintage Italian glass find on 1stDibs.
The reception area leads into the bar and lounge area to your right. While guests are waiting for their table, they can sip on their Negroni in one of the mid-century side chairs with champagne basket weave upholstery.
You’ll notice in the top floor plan that there are two art features planned for the space – one in the main reception area and one in the bar and lounge area. Opposite those champagne lounge chairs is the Bathtub Madonna art feature:
I put this together quickly in Photoshop so it’s a pretty rough interpretation of the installation, but you get the idea. Four large ‘Bathtub Madonnas’ suspended by heavy chain and anchor against a large scale custom graphic of traditional vintage oilcloth normally used as tablecloth.
Bathtub Madonnas are a real thing. Nowadays you can order a factory-made grotto online for your Blessed Virgin Mary garden shrine, but back in the day people used an upended bathtub, which I find much more interesting. These garden shrines are not exclusive to Italian neighborhoods, of course. Some of the most impressive displays are in the German-American neighborhoods in the Midwest. Our neighborhood is mostly made up of Croatian and Portuguese families and there are lots of modern versions of Bathtub Madonnas around.
I’m having so much fun with this concept and love how everything is coming together but there is more to explore. Thinking about the bathrooms – what do suburban kitsch bathrooms look like to you? Stay tuned for one last installment on this design in the coming weeks!