Today’s post brings together two design strands that have much preoccupied Tile Addict of late: concrete-effect tiles and incised linear patterns picked out in contrasting grout colours. In the Matrice collection for Cedit, designers Brondi and Raino have investigated the different effects that can be achieved with ceramic surfaces, exploring their perceptive qualities and tactile variations, to build up a collection that takes concrete both as its main inspiration and also as a subject to be interpreted in accordance with original physical and aesthetic codes.
The project, which comprises a wide range of pieces offering great compositional versatility, provides the basis for a rich spectrum of design solutions. In Matrice, figurative representation and abstraction merge to originate a product that sets out to redefine the expressive code of concrete, not merely imitated but critically reinterpreted.
Featuring different surface effects, finishes and modular sizes, Matrice is suitable for various types of use – floors or walls, outdoors or indoors – with an additional post-production process that creates a network of linear incisions that can be filled with brightly coloured grout to generate an infinite variety of geometric patterns. Multiplied across the surface, these webs effectively mask the joints between the individual ceramic pieces, so that the right-angled laying grid is no longer visible.
The solid austerity of concrete, symbolically associated with an uncompromisingly modern architectural style, is contrasted with warm graphic motifs taken from the Italian embroidery and the textile tradition. The effect achieved by combining a hard, uniform material (concrete) with pretty decoration in the form of these patterned incisions, produces unusual, highly expressive results.
The design, also inspired by typical characteristics of modernist architecture and the distinctive harmony of the bare concrete, has provided the stimulus for reinventing some ceramic finishes, allowing the creation of original, constantly fresh combinations for the design of living spaces with a strong personality.
Matrice also takes ideas from modern Italian architecture to develop a series of finishes that can be applied to porcelain stoneware. Concrete is originally a liquid material, and so absorbs and retains any type of mark created by the moulds used to form it. Architecture between rationalism and brutalism used the rough-and-ready language of concrete combined with elegant decorative motifs impressed on the material. In this collection, with a simplicity typical of BRH+, these concepts have been reduced and deconstructucted.
Attention to scale is another feature of the range. Matrice offers modules with architectural dimensions and different sizes with large slabs all but eliminating the visual impact of the regular grid. Thanks to this visual reset, geographic forms are perceived to emerge from dense, grey concrete surfaces.
The various types of concrete slab, each an atlas of subtle differences, are echoed in the surface options. Hence, the visual effect of reinforced concrete, with aggregates more clearly visible; or formwork, where the signs impressed on the concrete come from the timber shuttering. Then there is the structured surface resembling bare cement plaster, with ridged and streaked surfaces and patterning resembling some kinds of linear surface finishing processes. Finally there is a smooth, or basic, version.
It is on these surfaces that Brondi and Rainò have imagined additional design reverberations, using 3mm deep incised graphic marks cut into the slabs. These provide a framework for infinite design combinations. This recalls embroidery where every stitch is at right-angles to another one to construct forms and decorations. Also taken from embroidery is the idea of introducing a degree of softness to reduce the stiffness of neutral surfaces.
The designers BRH+ – Barbara Brondi and Marco Raino – are architects and designers who established their own firm in 2002. They focus on the theory and practice of design, expressed through an experimental, critical, curatorial approach that intentionally merges a number of separate disciplines. They have worked, amongst others, for Vivienne Westwood, Subsonica, Marlene Kuntz, and Adidas.
With Matrice, BRH+’s surface options are Essenza, Sostanza, Aura, Struttura, Traccia, Rilievo, and Forma. The available formats are 1,200 by 1,200, 1,200 by 2,400, 800 by 1,800, 800 by 800, 600 by 1,200, 400 by 800, and 200 by 800mm; in 6mm and 10mm thicknesses. The surface options are matt, slate-hammered, and smooth.
As is now starting to appear on tile collection literature, four bright and colourful grout options are suggested: Stucco Perla, Stucco Rosso, Stucco Giallo, and Stucco Turchese. Matrice takes this a step further with some acrylic paint suggestions: Ocra, Blu, Fumo, and Ghiaccio.
A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, June 2018.