Viva’s approach to the Bologna exhibition in 2004 was equally novel.
The company’s stand featured a plain wall set against a triangle of gravel, with an information post directing visitors to a private showing in a building locate behind the bus stops near to the main entrance of the Bologna Exhibition Centre. The sign listed a ‘phone number to book an appointment.
As one of the small coterie of tile geeks who made the effort to visit Viva’s off piste exhibition, I was rewarded by discovering a number of interesting new tile designs; all presented with the theatrical flair for which the company was renowned.
The collection that really caught my eye was Prét a Porter: a range of 200 by 400mm white bodied single fired wall tiles (with matching 200 by 200mm glazed porcelain floor tiles) inspired by the discipline of bespoke tailoring. The plain coloured glazes were reminiscent of the work of a tailor with fabric ready to be cut, matched and mixed. Wall tiles, available in 12 colours, were finished by decorated corners formed using cut-pieces in an identical palette.
Viva is an Italian company, founded in 1985, by one of my tile heroes, Fabrizio Zanfi. A true visionary, Zanfi had a dream, design discipline and a real flair for marketing. Under his stewardship, Viva quickly became a leader in the field of design in the tile world.
Viva is now a brand within the Emilgroup, itself a subsidiary of US giant Mohawk.
Pret a Porter first appeared in Tile & Stone Journal, November 2004.