In the interior design narrative, material has remained throughout history as the long-living and ever deserving protagonist. It is true that good material, needs also to work hand-in-hand with quality design, but its amazing how the introduction of quality tiles for example can totally transform a space in its own right. In fact, when it comes to picking stone and ceramic elements - I feel like a kid in a candy store, with so many options, its hard to know where to begin.
Thanks to the advances of both technique and technology, manufacturers can now pretty much replicate any kind of existing tactile and aesthetic element we desire. As a major design element in interior architecture and design – it’s easy to see how broader international design trends greatly influence the products presented each year in trade fairs, and set the stage for what's coming up next.
Take Terrazzo for example - this composite material consists of chips of marble, quartz, granite or class, paired with a cementious or polymeric binding, or a combination of both. Essentially, terrazzo is pieces or chips of smaller stones bonded together within a cement bed. Before it is set, additional chips may be sprinkled a-top for aesthetic purposes, and it is then poised smooth to produce a uniform texture. Although it has been in existence since as far back as 9,000 B.C, it gained popularity throughout Art Deco and Moderne periods, and again in the 1970's, where it was quite often used as flooring systems for schools or government buildings. One of the most well-known examples of terrazzo is the Hollywood walk of Fame.
No-one could ever have guessed that it would make a come back that it did, particularly in the last three years, it has experienced a resurgence, and its just delightful.
Oversized pale pink and white terrazzo is paired alongside a muted dark grey terrazzo flooring. The addition of soft lighting and velvet finishings inside Singapore's 'Odette' restaurant (above), designed by Barber and Osgerby's Universal design studio is just so fresh and airy. Not to mention, the food is also as sublime.
Having spent a year living in Italy, the influence of terrazzo is noticeable all over the city, but none more comparable to the work of David Chipperfield that is the Valentino store on Via de' Tornabuoni. (image left)
With an architecture designed to complement the pieces on display, a range of discreetly opulent materials – grey Venetian terrazzo with Carrara chippings, timber, marble and soft carpets, focus attention on the collections and evoke a sense of intimacy.
What is so beautiful about terrazzo is that the variations are endless, and the injection of colour only makes its slightly-messy appeal ever the more coherent.
The theatrical abilities of ceramic and stone in general are ever more exciting when they are used in contrast or applied in such a way that tells a story.
Ornamenta is an Italian ceramic company that I fell in love with during my time in Italy. Their vision is such:
"to look at ceramics in a new way approaching products by consideringthem no longer tiles but or a part of a coordinated project that combines design with art and architecture to make products more suitable to domestic and commercial spaces."
Ormamenta represents a new spirit and approach, providing alternative proposal to the traditional ceramic players in the market. They believe that at the centre of a project - ceramic decoration is the absolute protagonist of all the surfaces, and in so, they create tailored and unique collections with the inherent belief that tiles are not simply tiles, but a 'new skin'. (Love that!!)
They have such beautifully curated catalogues each season and they really do sell to you, an entire atmosphere through a singular tile. I've not come across another company with such a wonderfully diverse range - with ranges such as Future Anteriore, Wood & Would, Manifesto, 80's and Jungle, there is plenty to explore.. Here's some options from their Manifesto range (my favourite).
The collaboration between another great Italian brand, Ceramics Bardelli, and Dimore Studio is another stand-out. With another great philosophy of catering to those "who want to experience their spaces as if they were a nest, a refuge from the greyness".
With a collection of interior floor and wall tiles, the duo that is Dimore Studio, produced in white glazed stoneware with matt finishing, seven entirely hand-brushed collections. Really, I'm a sucker for anything 'artigenale' (handmade), and with projects such as Aesop store in Milan, and Palazzo Privè under their belt, their brand is worthy of international acclaim. Alongside Cermanica Bardelli - artisan techniques such as freehand drawing, stencilling and pouncing, synonymous with Italian ceramic design - the attention to detail is phenomenal, and each piece remains unique.