Reinforced Perspective

Capitol Designer Studio has commissioned Lily Jencks and Nathanael Dorent to create a pop-up installation in Primrose Hill to show people just what’s possible using a porcelain tile.

Pulsate by Capitol Designer Studio
Capitol Designer Studio’s Pulsate installation

Mark Williams, London Sales Director at CDS, said: “Lily Jencks is the most creative person I have ever met. Her understanding of space and form are truly enlightening. The Marazzi SistemN tile is a beautiful, but very simple, understated product. I thought that if we put the two together, we could produce something unique.”

He was right. In collaboration with fellow architect Nathanael Dorent, Jencks has created an incredibly striking space.

There are two ideas within the installation, explains Jencks. “One is about perception – how you perceive distances and shapes; and make sense of space. The other is about how to display an object that’s for sale; we wanted the space to be more than just a showroom selling tiles; to rethink the commercial transaction as something more creative.”

Inspired by Op Art and Gestalt psychology, Pulsate creates a sense of reinforced perspective and as a result will draw people into the space. Dorent says: “We decided to use one system of tiles in one size and four colours. It’s just a simple herringbone pattern, but we’ve applied it in three dimensions, to create something really eye popping.”

Capitol Designer Studio's Pulsate
Pulsate installation by Capitol Designer Studio

“What’s fun about the SistemN is the subtle range of colour,” says Jencks. “To get the really vivid exciting pattern, we go from dark to light to dark in a gradient, like a pulsating wave, which is where the name comes from.”

Because the pattern and structure are so tightly interrelated, there is zero- tolerance for error. If the structure changed by even one millimetre, the pattern would not work. So they had to pay incredibly close attention to every detail to get it just right.

“We had the idea of a shop not being only a functional space for consumption, but more about architecture and adventure,” continues Dorent. “The floor is sloped, and benches are built into the structure, so you’re never really sure what you’re looking at. People can sit and have a discussion, lie on the slope, or view the product. We hope this will be a place where commerce will not only be about selling but about exchanging information; and nine months is long enough that things can really happen here.”

A programme of events, including lectures, product launches and fashion shoots, is planned for the space following the launch event on 21st March 2013.

Gianluca Rossi, architect and Group Art Director, Marazzi said: “We are delighted with Lily and Nathanael’s design. It’s a fantastic creation and we are honoured that SistemN was chosen.”

Mark Williams, CDS says: “Pulsate pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with tiles. By linking a manufacturer with a designer, they can think freely and explore the possibilities of the tile as a medium, to create anything they like. Hopefully this will be the first of many such collaborations.”

Capitol Designer Studio's Pulsate
Pulsate installation by Capitol Designer Studio

The tile used in the installation is the 100 by 600mm tile SistemN range from Marazzi in four colours: Grigio Chiaro, Grigio Scuro, Graphite and Nero. Using adhesives from St Gobain Weber, the tiles were painstakingly installed by The Chelsea Tile Company and V-Ta Tiling. “Believe it or not, it was a pleasure to work on and is incredible!  The number of tilers involved grew by the day as the pattern allowed more people to join,” says Project Manager, James.

“Project managing a job like this is not easy, but I know it is going to amaze people and it has been exciting to watch it slowly progress.”

Similar to an Escher picture, this ground breaking installation features walls and floor that have all been constructed at angles to each other, creating an incredible space and an installation that confuses the eye and the brain.

The tiler’s brief was to use four monochrome colours to produce an innovative tile design that would make people look differently at tiles and tiling. It is also intended to inspire architects and designers to use more tiles.

The tilers also had to install the tiles to the highest possible standards without going mad in the process. It is a brief that The Chelsea Tile Company and V-Ta Tiling have performed to the letter.

Capitol Designer Studio

This article first appeared in Tile & Stone Journal, April 2013

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