While being a new restaurant, the site of Taqiza was previously an old Havana-style setting, which presented some unique challenges. Navigating her way through the design, however, Imogen Reed, principal of IJR Studio, posited her muse as the iconic mid-century photography of Slim Aarons’ Palm Springs meets a hacienda-inspired resort.
Reed has a passion for sustainability and every opportunity to reuse and reimagine takes precedence. As such, the design has been worked as a series of progressions, the first being to take everything back to crisp foundations.
The hardwood chevron floor for example, which was dark, worn and sun damaged, has been lovingly restored and made bright again. The walls and ceilings were similarly stripped back and resurfaced: “Translating the mid-century modern, minimalistic, very white taqueria, into that space, required a bit of creativity,” says Reed, who took one look at the stripped space and decided to paint it pink.
Not just any pink, but a lime-washed, soft pink reminiscent of the pink adobes of Mexico and Spain, where bull’s blood was mixed with the render for both the resulting soft pink glow and its hydrophobic properties (Porter’s fine stone in tutu). Warming the pink further are coffer-concealed LEDs set perpetually to pink and an ambient 2200 candlelight colour temperature throughout.
Handmade bespoke fringed lamps (Tinker & Tallulah) over the bar add another layer of pink, while more pink and visual intrigue is introduced via a voluminous soft pink linen curtain (Panay shell, Warwick).
Centre to the design is a large bar of deep green marble faced with a fine rattan (House of Bamboo). Triggering much of Reed’s design is a small green and gold antique lamp with a shade of handmade beads. “The lamp was the first item we won at auction (and there was a bit of heat on that particular item) for the project during the concept development. It was an inspiration and set the mood beautifully,” says Reed.
Exploring the green and pink further are well-placed mid-century pieces including handmade candlesticks from Morocco, art vases, glowing amber wall sconces and a Murano pedestalled bowl: “To make sense of the green bar I introduced quite a lot of green into the interiors,” says Reed who quickly admits, “I love pink and green together.”
The bespoke green glass tabletops over vintage Parisienne bases are a particular delight. Using coloured splashback glass, the depth of colour shifts as daylight moves through the space. These are paired with banquettes in Kelly Wearstler’s striped fabric (Elliott Clark, in Shoreline Evergreen) and a luscious sea green (Chivaso Hot Madison, Unique Fabrics).
High agave green cane chairs are dotted along the bar, but also at the small window table, where food is served cantina style through plantation shutters. These shutters continue into the restaurant allowing patrons a view into the kitchen, when not admiring the Moroccan straw animal heads that line the walls.
Reed’s art selection is good with an authentic Slim Aarons ‘Café in Monte Carlo’ photograph taking pride of place. Accompanying this are mid-century works by Allan D’Arcangelo and Robert Indiana, plus more contemporary works by Derek Henderson. “I’m an avid fan of the auctions and believer of things coming together as they should. You’ve got trust that what comes up is right,” says Reed, who was at first disappointed not to have secured an Aaron print, only to find it later and larger elsewhere.
For the glazed exterior, the mood is a more lazy afternoon sunroom, with large white daybeds upholstered in vintage kilims with cushions made from more Kilims and deep green boucle (Verdigris, Elba, Mokum). A bright pastel graphic across the top of the glass balustrade contains the space, while a crazy paved floor gives the whole a relaxed Palm Springs mood, as do the potted cacti.
Reed’s take on the mid-century, while visually signposted to capture the mood, is lighter and fresher than the reality of Palm Springs. Moreover, it is far more in keeping with the contemporary clientele of Taqiza, which literally translates as taco party. It is also a whole lot of fun.
Interior design – IJR Studio
Photography – Jake Scevola
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