When Urth Caffé co-owners Shallom and Jilla Berkman began planning their location in Las Vegas at the new Wynn Plaza, they contacted California Pottery and Tile Works. Urth Caffé at Wynn Plaza opened Nov. 10.
Jilla Berkman, Urth’s Lead Designer, has collaborated with CalPot’s owners Sean and Desmond McLean for tile designs of its Southern California cafés since 2002, as well as for the couple’s 1917 Spanish Revival home.
Shallom Berkman calls the restaurant’s focal point – a planter for an olive tree with a surrounding fountain/seating area below a spectacular star-shaped skylight – “Jilla’s masterpiece.” See photo below.
“The best aspect of working with the CalPot team is they encourage creativity and welcome challenges. They basically want you to go wild with your imagination,” he said. “There is no one doing what they do in the traditional, hand-made way.”
That “hand-made way” he mentioned started when Sean McLean went to the construction site to measure and photograph the foundation structures of the planter, surrounding fountain and seating area as well as the skylight so he could build same-size mock-ups in CalPot’s downtown Los Angeles location.
The skylight mockup (below) was raised on a forklift to replicate its view from below during the design process by the Berkmans and the CalPot team of designers and artisans.
As with CalPot’s previous commissions for Urth Caffé, tile in the Vegas location was custom designed by Jilla Berkman, then hand-crafted and glazed by CalPot artisans to fit various areas throughout the project.
Her design “signatures” – red hearts and angel wings – are combined in tiles at the base of the skylight (below left). Glistening 24-karat gold glaze shines from tiles inside the skylight (below right), on the beams and soffits.
Brightly decorated terracotta tile geckos (below left) are arrayed in an interlocking M.C. Escher pattern around the fountain, custom-curved to fit the structure’s radius in the studio (below right).
“We put a ton of work and a lot of thought into this,” Sean McLean said. “Nothing could have been achieved without Shallom and Jilla and architect Victor Corona.”
CalPot worked closely on the tile installation with general contractor Burke Construction Group LLC and Western Tile & Marble of Las Vegas.
Click here to see more designs California Pottery and Tile Works has created for Urth Caffé’s locations in Southern California.