Tucked away in Anchorage, AK, is a unique little yogurt shop where local residents of all ages come to enjoy a bright atmosphere of colors and shapes along with a frozen yogurt cup. The Soyo Yogurt Shoppe showcases a handmade mosaic tile display that incorporates a bold pattern of colors in a whimsical display that is only rivaled by the shop’s collection of toppings.

 

Located in a space that was once home to a Pizza Hut, shop owners Kandy Broderick and Heather Kinzie knew they wanted to transform the space into something special. They enlisted Jonathan Wrede of Wredesign in Anchorage, AK, to create the design of the mosaic walls that are the focus of the shop’s interior. “Tiles were used as the main attraction,” said Wrede. “The design goal for the new Soyo Yogurt Shoppe was to create an environment that would appeal to all ages with new surfaces, textures and colors. We wanted to create an urban, organic feeling that would enhance the yogurt experience and set the shop apart from similar yogurt stores in the Anchorage area.”

The walls of the yogurt shop are clad with handmade artisan tiles from Mercury Mosaics of Minneapolis, MN. “We used 3- x 3-inch glazed tiles as well as a number of different-sized circle shapes that meandered across the main focal wall, melding into the 3- x 3-inch tile grid,” explained Wrede. “The round tiles created a wave effect with the 3- x 3-inch tiles being placed above and below.

“We wanted a surface easy to clean, but without the typical sterile look,” he continued. “This combination of 3- x 3-inch tiles and circle shapes brought movement that was exciting and a pallet of different colors brought the whole interior together.”

A one-man installation team

To install the tile, the shop owner called in a family favor. Installation of the tile walls of the shop were done by Jamey Wood — Broderick’s brother-in-law. “Because of my experience, this was right up my alley, and Kandy is my sister-in-law, so she would have killed me if I didn’t do this,” joked Wood, who has over 20 years of tiling experience, but is currently focusing on working as a realtor in the Anchorage area. This also meant long nights working in the shop.

“I was able to get the work done at night. The general contractor’s construction crew was out usually no later than 5 p.m. I was able to go in there and stay into all hours of the night — sometimes 2 or 3 o’clock,” said Wood. He also added the advantage of working these hours for a full-time realtor, “It wasn’t so bad, because nobody was calling me at those hours,” he said. “There was no interference when I got there for the night.”

And having no interference was good for this one-man team as the project started with some complications in the planning. “The yogurt dispensers were the main attraction and focus of the store, so the pattern had to be above there and consistent throughout the shop,” explained Wood. “The main challenge of this project was that the tile was made to fit specific dimensions. The wall dimensions had to be changed to fit equipment, so I had tile to fit specific dimensions that no longer existed.”

Overcoming challenges

Having to work with new dimensions and custom-ordered tiles, Wood took to figuring out the new configurations of this design. “There is this flowing bubble pattern — sent to fit a specific area — but had to be cut,” explained the installer. “I had to raise the bubbles up. There was a wall with benches where the tile had to be cut off. This had completely changed where the field tile was. In the doorway, that’s an area up top where [the pattern] is carried across. I had to re-cut all the field tile around the bubbles. The big-screen TVs and benches all were challenges. [To sum it up], everything arrived, and the dimensions were wrong.”

But this was a challenge that didn’t seem to deter the outcome of the project. All that was needed was some time to sort out the next steps in the installation. “I probably spent six hours trying to figure out where I needed to start, where I had to go — a fair amount of time figuring how I needed to move stuff, figuring out how to go around corners,” said Wood. “It’s easy to miter a square, but not bubbles.”

The reconfiguring of the layout needed a starting point and base to follow. “The main thing was to get the line straight across. I started with the lowest bubbles, ran it across and then worked up,” explained Wood. It was fortunate that the way the pattern had to be cut down from the bottom allowed for extras tiles that Wood used to make up for space at the top of the wall. “Because of height differential and the way I had to move it, I was going to be short,” he explained. “I had to count my field tile. I looked at what I had and the changes that I was going to make and thought, ‘Wow, I’m going to be short at the top,’ so I did a border on the top. We ended up losing stuff on the bottom because we had to move up the pattern [using the brown tile], but I think it looked better than with just the green [field tile].”

The tiles were laid out by taking the pattern step-by-step and checking that it was straight throughout the process. Wood pointed out that the most efficient way to do so was to check his work along the way. After every couple of columns were installed, he took a measurement and made sure that it was straight with his level line.

Wood’s method of following the straight line was challenged when the pattern crossed over a doorway, slightly interrupting the guiding line. “It did take some time to connect going across the doorway,” explained the installer. “I had to bring the bubbles up and behind the padded seat. That’s where it did take a lot of time because it had to be cut to fit. Below, it didn’t matter — it’s kind of funny. If you took a level below the bubbles you’d realize it doesn’t quite match up. It’s not noticeable, but I know it’s there.”

Because the tile was installed on the walls, Wood used a mastic that was first approved by the manufacturer to make sure it would work for this type of tile. Mapei’s Type 1™ Premium Tile Adhesive was chosen and Mapei’s Keracolor™ S Premium Sanded Grout in Chamois was used.

“Grout was really easy,” said Wood. “The challenge in the clean up was that some of the tiles were really textured. The field tile doesn’t get installed any quicker. I just had to make sure they were full and flush. The bubbles weren’t bad at all.”

Allowing for human error, Wood managed to overcome the challenges of this project. “They were all just a little different in size, which was really cool,” he said. “All in all, it went pretty good.” He also admires the design. “I was impressed with the tile itself,” he said. “The bubbles were amazing, and the colors, the way they had them intertwined and sitting inside each other, the company did a good job of making it.”


Installation Details
Installer: Jamey Wood, Anchorage, AK
Designer: Wredesign, Anchorage, AK
 
Tile Products: Mercury Mosaics, Minneapolis, MN
Installation Products: Mapei, Deerfield Beach, FL
Number of Installers: 1
Installation Time: 60 hours