Meat and Potato pix
A classic American restaurant type meets a not-quite-traditional Japanese aesthetic at Stripsteak, a Super Potato project in Las Vegas.
Kurt Handlbauer -- Interior Design, 2/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
A fiberglass-reinforced-plastic wall backlit by an LED system is the focus of the dining room at Stripsteak, Super Potato's restaurant for the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Fused to glass partitions, molded FRP mimics scavenged computer components.
The partitions delineate areas in the dining room and separate diners from the noisy bar.
Booths account for 24 of the dining room's 186 seats.
A wall of galvanized scrap iron draws attention to glass aging chambers showcasing prime cuts of beef.
Wood for the 14-foot-high screen wall comes from an Asian jungle. Patricia Urquiola and Eliana Gerotto designed the glass-cabochon chandelier.
The wall gives hotel guests a glimpse into the dining room.
Glass pendant fixtures by Jeremy Pyles mix with incandescent spotlights.
The action in the kitchen, featuring two mesquite-fired grills, is visible through a window.
Metal armatures, suspended from the ceiling, support the glass partitions.
The LED wall shifts back and forth between warm and cool colors.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ERIC LAIGNEL
Steak goes perfectly with a potato. Especially when celebrity chef Michael Mina prepares the dry-aged rib eye, and his restaurant is designed by the avant-garde architecture firm Super Potato. The genius of Stripsteak, which now occupies 8,000 square feet on the ground level of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, is that the design puts a fresh spin on the classic steak house. No mere meat-and-potatoes kind of place, the restaurant is intended to be a hot destination for the high rollers and wannabe Rat Packers trawling the Las Vegas strip.
This isn't the first time that the firm's visionary founder, Takashi Sugimoto, has been a winner in Sin City. His previous project, Sensi restaurant at the Bellagio, even scored a commendation from the Marble Institute of America for an innovative use of stone: specifically natural boulders as much as 1 foot thick, quarried in Japan. "We were really interested to find out," chief designer Yoshifumi Tanaka says, "if Asian design, Japanese design, and, more precisely, Super Potato design would be acceptable in such an American city."
For Stripsteak, the firm took its cues from Sensi's experiments with the sensory effect of found objects. "We chose common materials, typically thought of as having little value," Tanaka explains. "For example, we became interested in industrial scraps, such as those from shipping and factory equipment."
Typical of most eateries in this desert gambler's paradise, Stripsteak generously comprises a bar-lounge, a private party room, and a wine cellar in addition to the dining room. The careful division of the interior into autonomous zones creates a more human scale: It's a way of structuring space traditionally found in Japanese restaurants.
Innovative partitions play a starring role. Transparent glass ones, suspended from the ceiling, are punctuated by rows of small squares. Though they read as precious ornaments, they're ironically fabricated with molds of scavenged computer components, used to shape fiberglass-reinforced plastic. Far more substantial, a full-height perforated screen wall made of wooden blocks curves around one corner of the restaurant, separating it from public space off the casino lobby. "We looked for woods from the Asian jungle, species that aren't generally thought to be beautiful enough for furniture," Tanaka says. The grain of the wood subtly reconnects this artificial environment to the natural world.
On entering the space, you're beckoned by a glowing bar, faced in refreshingly ice-blue translucent glass and lined with stools, their black barrel seats perched on elegant chrome legs. In the dining room, chair versions of the bar stools, this time covered in red, mingle with an assortment of armchairs and teak-topped tables, large and small. Above, pendant fixtures and carefully adjusted spots focus diners' attention on the primary design elements—as well as each other.
An oasis in the midst of the glitz, Super Potato's Stripsteak appears, overall, to be the antithesis of the in-your-face symbolism celebrated on the pages of Learning From Las Vegas. A few more literal details do creep in, however. Next to a pair of glass-enclosed aging chambers, which show off the sacred steaks to foodie fans, panels of rust-brown galvanized scrap iron evoke Western stockyards.
"We always consider regionality and trends in our work," Tanaka explains. And what could be trendier than the LEDs that backlight a focal wall molded, again, from FRP? The light show's color swathes shift the atmosphere from cool to hot-potato hot.
LED FIXTURES: COLOR KINETICS. WOODEN CHAIRS, TABLES: SEIKOSHA CO. CABOCHON CHANDELIER: FOSCARINI. PENDANT FIXTURES: NICHE MODERN. LIGHTING CONSULTANT: PAUL STEELMAN DESIGN GROUP. GENERAL CONTRACTOR: TRE BUILDERS.