Kerakoll's Green Lab

Trencadis Torchbearers

Kerakoll's Green Lab
Kerakoll’s Green Lab

You only had to see the external cladding used on Vives’ stunning stand at Cevisama to realise that trencadis is on trend right now. With terrazzo also enjoying a period of rebirth and reinvention, it is clear that the creative freedom afforded by irregular mosaic effects, and inclusions of different colours and shapes, is proving irresistible to today’s tile designers.

Kerakoll's Green Lab
Kerakoll’s Green Lab

Trencadís is a type of mosaic used in Catalan modernism. Created from broken tile shards or pieces of ceramic flatware, the technique is also known as ‘pique assiette’.

Kerakoll's Green Lab
Kerakoll’s Green Lab

It is fitting that trencadis features on the roof of one of the tiling industry’s most iconic buildings: Kerakoll’s GreenLab in Sassuolo, Italy.   This striking eco-sustainable research and innovation institute for the building chemicals manufacturer was the first service sector building in Italy to be constructed solely from sustainable solutions and materials.

The architects, Studiobios, were inspired by the hills around Sassuolo.  The form of the building is reminiscent of natural animal and plant shapes, as well as the kilns that used to be used for firing ceramics.  The building’s crowning glory is an asymmetrically-shaped roof covered in white ceramic trencadis, suspended – as if floating – above the massive walls.

Trencadis has a proud history.  Notable exponents included Raymond Edouard Isadore (1900-1964), known as the ‘father of French pique assiette’.   He used pieces of coloured glass and pottery found in the fields near his house in Chartres, to cover every internal and external surface of his house and garden area.

White trencadis
White trencadis

The Catalan architects Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol used trencadís in many projects, of which Barcelona’s Parc Güell (1900-1914) is probably the most famous.

Blue trencadis
Blue trencadis

Gaudí covered his 3D architecture with glazed ceramics of different shapes and colours, to created brightly coloured patterns, using waste pieces from a tile factory, and pieces of white ceramic from broken cups and plates.

Now, it seems, a new generation of designers are waking up to the creative possibilities of trencadis as explored by these old masters.

A new post from Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, March 2017.

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