(Cross-posted from Azure, a Toronto-based magazine of architecture and design)
With two stunning installations – a courtyard sculpture by Zaha Hadid, and a showroom revamp by Diego Grandi – Lea Ceramiche shows off its versatile tiles.
Zaha Hadid’s Twirl at the University of Milan
This dynamic installation, which transforms the school’s 18th-century courtyard, also demonstrates the architect’s flexible and unconventional use of Lea’s porcelain stoneware. It comprises a vortex of one-metre wide ultra slim (we’re talking three-millimetre thick) Slimtech slabs staggered in ranging heights, up to a maximum of two metres. The lines that create the sinuous form are plotted from the columns of the surrounding buildings; meeting at the centre, the slabs cover nearly the entire 800-metre-square outdoor area. Panels in seven different colours, from milk white to black coffee, bring the 3-D structure to life with constantly shifting shape and colour as they rise and fall.
The swirling mass is equally effective at nighttime, when fluorescent light tubes by Artemide uplight the building in punctuated streaks, creating a link between the formal layout of the setting and the flowing lines of the project.
The installation is part of the Interni Mutant Architecture & Design event, featuring nine independent installations throughout the University of Milan’s campus, during Milan Design Week, April 11-17.
Diego Grandi revamps the showroom
At the Lea Ceramiche showroom, you can see behind-the-scenes video and photographs of Twirl under construction. The showroom’s interior has been re-conceived by Diego Grandi (a frequent and always imaginative collaborator of the brand), who revamps the Slimtech line in his own curious way. A play on domesticity, Grandi’s concept, “Gita al Faro”, or “To the lighthouse”, ironically interprets the bathroom, combining ceramics and furnishings with a heavy-handed maritime theme.
Grandi introduces the Gouache.10 version of Slimtech, lending a new colour range and a soft surface to the razor-thin slabs. Tiles of Deep Sea line the wall while Crystal Water cover the floor, their joints defining a mosaic of triangular elements. Small round non-vitreous ceramic wall tiles from the Paillettes collection are framed in panels on the wall.
The Bowl tub and urinals from Ceramica Globo reinforce the spirit of water with geometric forms covered with Gouache.10 tiles in Cool Rain, like rocks submerged in the sea. Nautical furnishings like Galileo’s telescope by Odoardo Fioravanti for Palomar add to the scenery.
The installation is on view on the ground floor at the Lea Ceramiche Showroom, Via Durini 3, until the first week of April. Lea Ceramiche will be at both Salone for Milan Design Week from April 12-17 and the Coverings expo in Las Vegas from April 21-24.