Best Foot Forward
Mosaics by Xavier Llongueras show off shoes in style at Otto Tootsi Plohound's latest New York store
Jill Fergus -- Interior Design, 4/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
When Annette and Larry Everston commissioned artist-designer Xavier Llongueras to create mosaic details for the couple's own apartment, the result impressed them enough to hire the Gaudí-influenced Barcelona native to put his stamp on their trendy New York footwear chain, Otto Tootsi Plohound. Llongueras redid two existing locations and, when the Everstons secured a new, 3,000-square-foot SoHo space, they brought him in at the outset, confident that his fresh, whimsical style and brilliant use of color would act as a complementary counterpoint to the exposed structural beams and industrial fluorescent lighting. "The floor-to-ceiling windows tempt you to come inside," Annette Everston says. "Xavier's mosaics keep you there."
One of the interior's most eye-catching elements is the undulating, 32-foot-long glass-mosaic wall that defines the men's section. Beige and coffee-colored tiles predominate, but closer inspection reveals copper, lavender, and mauve tiles as well. "Similar to a Seurat painting, the colors blur into a single muted shade," Llongueras says. Across the room, in the women's area, is a more fanciful mosaic design set against a white plaster background. The 52-foot-long curlicue formation begins in a corner, then unfurls in a ribbon around two sides of the space. "These mosaics were inspired by the waters of Hawaii. I was intrigued by the playful motion of the crashing waves," explains the artist, who chose a palette of olive, sea foam, and pea green with splashes of cobalt, sunflower yellow, and orange to convey his concept. Mosaic elements also extend to the edges of the custom-made curved display units and the subtle, gray-and-eggshell tiled border of the poured-cement floor.
While the mosaics are aesthetically appealing, the combination of the tiles and curved walls did make it quite a challenge to integrate the glass shelving. "It was extremely difficult to align each shelf and keep it straight. They all had to be measured very precisely," says contractor Ian Rosko of Rosko Homes, based in Brooklyn. "And each shelf is 1/2 inch wider than the one above, so the shoes lower down aren't obstructed. It's not something the customer would notice, but it makes a difference." A lot of work, unquestionably, but to Llongueras it's worth the effort: "Normally, people associate mosaics with Roman ruins or Byzantine churches. Why can't they be in a retail space?"