Las Iguanas – Mermaid Quay, Cardiff
When Las Iguanas approached B3 Designers the brief was to refresh their existing brand and to prepare a new interior concept for their site in Mermaid Quay, Cardiff. We worked closely with the Las Iguanas team and brand agency to uncover key characteristics of the brand. Inspiration was taken from the Latin American menu which consists of Mexican, Brasillian and Cuban offers as well as from the ethos of the company. Las Iguanas began as a single site and the company takes a grassroots approach to a lot of its business; sourcing independent Latin American suppliers. We also wanted to capture the energy of the brand which celebrates the laid back, unrestrained fun of Brasilian Carnival and beach culture.
Energy and Colour
The bright landscape of sea blue rough sawn timber, pink tree trunks and intense patchwork green banquettes creates a vivid tapestry and immediate energy upon entering Las Iguanas, Mermaid Quay. Furniture, fixtures and flooring contribute to this energy as well as the fluidity of the space itself. Bespoke tiles have been used for the flooring which feature Latin American inspired bright, geometric patterns. The open kitchen and the bathrooms feature intense colour ways of greens, pinks and blues evoking an amazonian landscape. Sculptural wire yellow Oscar Niemeyer inspired chairs and light fixtures are combined with wooden church chairs that have brightly painted seats. The open kitchen which is eye level with surrounding tables also feeds energy into the space, whilst reclaimed crates that form the back bar and product display area have been left with gaps so as to allow views into other areas of the restaurant. The Cachaca label inspired graphic and illustration along the timber wall celebrates retro beach culture.
Integration of bright colours with industrial materials
The design has been made to fit into a UK environment by integrating slightly rough industrial materials with the bright colour palette. For example the back bar features rough sawn timber painted in sea blue and the bar front retains the Las Iguanas signature bright red and incorporates a mild steel cage. The new logo, again in signature bright red, sits against stained timber in a lattice arrangement.
Light and Shadows
We also wanted to look at ways we could create the light and shadow effect you often get with natural sunlight in outdoor spaces. We did this by sourcing sculptural, wire light fixtures that dispersed light in a way that is reminiscent of natural light in warmer countries. We continued with this idea of bringing the outside in through use of tropical plants in brightly coloured pots and using draping cables in the private dining room space that reference festoon lighting.
Inspiration from cultural landscape
Inspiration was drawn from researching the cultural landscape and architecture of Latin America. We were fascinated by favelas and many elements of the design have been constructed in a somewhat random pattern; using ‘found’ materials to create features and pieces within the space. The arrangement of timber walls as well as the reclaimed crate back bar and product display area are examples of this. The waiter station also features a combination of wooden ‘found’ pieces for legs including a brightly painted pink balustrade.
We were particularly inspired by a Cuban photographic exhibition which showed old fashioned TVs in Cuban living spaces. This evoked the romanticism of fifties design and we sourced vintage television sets for the back bar and a radio for the private dining room. These pieces have been reconditioned, using the original carcasses and then refitted with up to date technology.