Visual grace notes to architectural compositions, surface and finish materials can bring tactility, color, and pattern into a space. From floor to ceiling, from wood and tile to composites and carpeting, here’s our pick of the current palette.
Founded in 1898, this family-run company sources Douglas fir and oak from the best forests in Europe, selecting trees between eighty and 200 years old for exceptional custom flooring installations.
In October on a visit to London, friends mentioned that Eduardo Paolozzi’s early 1980 tile mosaics in the Tottenham Court tube station were going to be demolished. I diverted a Northern Line trip from Bank Street to the Charing Cross branch of the line and and walked through the Tottenham Station taking poorly lit iPhone images of the threatened mosaics. Paolozzi was a founding member of the English Independent Group and as an important early pop artist. His tube station artworks are a colorful and bright addition to a public space that is usually generic and often downright lifeless and boring.
A molded-glass sheet suitable for interior and exterior applications, the relief pattern is continuous between panels.
“In Sophie’s restaurant at Saks Fifth Avenue in Chicago, we installed a wall of digitally-engineered Liquidkristal by Lasvit. The optical effects of cascading ripples of glass create playful reflections, painterly distortions, and elegant abstract patterns that are beautiful in their subtlety and striking in their boldness.”
—Andre Kikoski, Andre Kikoski Architect, New York City
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A neoclassical museum in the Netherlands gets an iconic update and vertical expansion of ceramic and glass.
The Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle, the Netherlands, houses an international collection of art and sculpture. Its venerable neoclassical edifice symbolizes the city’s rise from its Medieval foundations into the 19th century period of enlightenment. Designed in 1840 by Eduard Louis de Coninck, the building reflects the dissolution of feudalism and a dynamic, forward-thinking perspective on the future. Now, a recent expansion of the museum has shown that the city has not stopped evolving, but is in fact moving quite steadily into the 21st century. The elliptical, organically formed addition, designed by Bierman Henket Architecten, perches atop the 19th century structure, its textured ceramic facade evincing a progressive aesthetic hitherto unknown to this sleepy Dutch town.
Despite the economic freeze gripping much of Italy, more than 100,000 attendees—50 percent of whom came from outside the country—converged on Bologna for the 2013 edition of Cersaie, the world’s largest ceramic tile fair. In addition to daily educational sessions and a keynote from Pritzker Prize winner Rafael Moneo, 900 product exhibitors filled the halls with the newest iterations of stone and tile looks on porcelain and ceramic. Textile-influenced surfaces were particularly prevalent, as were recreations of hand-crafted, custom-made tiles thanks to more affordable production methods.
Though nearly every company exhibiting at Cersaie 2013 boasted some kind of wood look, Cerim’s (above) stood out for its realistic color and graining, and authentically placed embossing. Available in five tones on three differently sized planks, the collection also comes in two finishes for indoor and outdoor flooring applications.
More than 900 ceramic and sanitary ware manufacturers from 50 countries exhibited at Coverings 2013 in Atlanta, but three days to take in two exhibit halls and a back-to-back education program only made a dent in the offerings. The following is a cross section of some of the stand-out products displayed on the show floor last week.
Bellavita Tile translates San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood-style onto ceramic with SoMa (above), a multi functional unglazed porcelain that can withstand high traffic in commercial applications. The collection comes in Matte or Polished finishes for interiors, as well as Structured for exteriors or wet areas, and six colors are available on 24 by 24-, 12 by 24-, and 12 by 12-inch formats. Three mixed formats, mosiacs and coordinating trims are also available.
Trade shows are no longer simply product exhibitions: Education and networking sessions have become essential components to a show’s success. Coverings has expanded this formula to include installation vignette’s that, built over the course of four days during the show, demonstrate the versatility and variety of applications for ceramic tile. The Installation Design Showcase has paired four local, Atlanta-based design firms with four installation teams that have achieved the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) Five Star Recognition, and have been certified by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. Now in its fifth year, the teams will produce a bar/lounge; a hotel lobby; an in-patient room in a women’s birthing center; and a master bathroom, all designed to demonstrate the design possibilities of tile and stone.
“These rooms are not all settings in which you would necessarily expect to see tile,” said Bart Bettiga, executive director, NTCA. “Above all, the Showcase highlights just how important the ongoing designer/installer partnership is to a successful project. Bringing the field to life in this way is another example of what makes Coverings a unique and valuable experience.”
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e+i studio of New York won a design competition for their concept of a trade show pavilion made entirely from Italian tile.
Crafting a memorable and intimate environment within voluminous convention halls can be a daunting challenge. To establish a meaningful presence in such environs, Ceramics of Italy tapped into the A&D community with a competition in 2012 for unique booth designs to showcase the products of its manufacturers. Piazza Ceramica, designed by e+i Studio and fabricated by A&M Production, won the competition. Its proposal was installed at the Coverings Tile and Stone trade show in 2012 and 2013. Inspired by Italy’s social culture, architects Ian Gordon and Eva Perez de Vega used the idea of a public space to showcase tiles produced in Italy for a bespoke, modular pavilion that houses a multi-function program of a café, information kiosk, and restaurant.
The design utilizes a topographical approach to build up the pavilion’s perimeter with seating and display installed product. “From the beginning, we started to look at the topography in a series of parametric studies to determine the optimal stair/riser ratio to integrate the substructure of the two mounds,” said Perez de Vega. “From there, we wanted color to be an important component to showcase the qualities of the tile to transition smoothly from intense greens to reds to whites.” Read More
While it seemed as if almost every ceramic tile manufacturer at Cersaie was debuting a new line of faux wood grain textured panels, Patricia Urquiola, Creative Director of Mutina Ceramiche & Design, embraced the artisanal tradition of hand painted 20 by 20 cm decorative tile with her new collection, Azulej.
When architects talk about the “skin” of a building, I realize they’re going techie on me, but I also appreciate the sense of lightness and fluidity that the word conveys. (Did they talk about “la peau d’un bâtiment” in those Ecole des Beaux-Arts days?)
A delightful “skin” has shown up recently on an office building in Palo Alto, the Peninsula town next to Stanford University. Read More