Photos by Lincoln Barbour
Corazón is a Mexican restaurant for Portland chef, Chris Israel. The space is situated at the ground floor of the Indigo Building, a Portland high rise designed by ZGF Architects.
Creating a feeling of welcoming warmth and intimacy evocative of Mexico was a difficult challenge, due to the industrial nature of the existing space with its very high ceilings, vast expanse of concrete floor, and very little visual separation from a busy street.
We began our design process with lots of image research, and landed on one photo in particular which drove much of our design; a densely packed Mexican market with dozens of baskets hanging above a walkway. We wanted to recreate that warm organic feeling.
Our concept for the space was to use readily available, inexpensive materials to add an organic layer of texture, divide the space into a bar, entry and main dining room, and lower the ceiling to a more intimate height.
We found giant baskets and used them as light fixtures, which softens and filters the light while bringing down the perceived height of the ceilings. We used thick natural rope to separate the bar and entry from the main dining space. A strip of planters behind the seating softens and mitigates the adjacency to the sidewalk and street. We worked with local glass blower Esque to create bar fixtures that create a warm glow.
Incorporating a variety of tiles—boldly graphic encaustic concrete, earthy terra cotta quarry tiles, colorful glazed bricks, and tiny bright mosaics—adds playfulness, color and pattern. The space now is much warmer and more organic, with lots of visual interest on a variety of scales.
The project manager for Corazón was JHID designer Chelsie Lee.