What happened to the era of minimalism in interior design? I can safely say for now that it is not the dominant trend of the moment. In other words, we are free to embrace pattern and colour without sneaking round the back or lowering our eyes in embarrassment when the high-and-mighty black-and-white clothed design authorities nod approvingly at the walls and floors of pristine white and monochrome—sometimes grey is allowed on less serious days—where on paper nary a dime of dirt exists but in reality we can’t help but feel a little remorse when there’s a scratch in sight.
Of course all this revelry is not random. We are celebrating very much the beautiful, absolutely divine Cementiles collection created by Bisazza that is a modern interpretation of the traditional cement tiles used in the homes of nobility in the half of the 1800s and early 1900s in Europe, and also of the Peranakan floor tiles from our region. More recognised for their glistening mosaics that adorn club walls and swimming pools of lovers of luxe, the Cementiles collection is as understated as it is exuberant. They are entirely hand made using high-strength cement blended with coloured oxides, and are also designed by some of the most talented architects and designers of our era. Here, I’ve highlighted my favourites from Paola Navone, Jaime Hayon and India Mahdavi, the last of which was recently launched at the Milan Furniture Fair.
I first encountered the designs of Paola Navone working on the interior design of a resort in Phuket. Then, my eyes were opened to her furniture and furnishings for Gervasoni: the glimmer and weight of the lacquered ceramic stools in ocean blue and teal; the breeziness of the linen-clothed sofas with deep proportions that instantly evoke a spirit of languor and rest; the thick squiggles and chalky scratches and poppy reds and blues in the furnishing patterns reminiscent of a child’s drawings but also so sophisticated—just like her Cementiles collection for Bisazza as seen in series of pictures above. And then last year I made a pilgrimage to the hotel she designed, Point Yamu by COMO in Phuket, where she brought into the establishment the colours of the sea and sky and the textures of the land. Soon after that I got to meet the lovely lady at Maison & Objet Asia who was so very sweet and Italian.
Jaime Hayon—I haven’t met him but how can you not know his hand in the world of contemporary design. The maestro of curves and whimsy, he has lent an organic touch to the design houses of Fritz Hansen, BD Barcelona, Magis, Baccarat, Bosa, to name a few, and not to mention, injected the very proper Spanish ceramics manufacturer Lladro with his brand of cheekiness and irreverence.
Through the Bisazza Cementiles collection I’ve gotten to know the works of Parisian-based architect India Mahdavi. Hop over to her website and you will see why she was invited to design for the collection: the richness of her colour palette—with pops of blood-red, canary yellow, luscious purples, brilliant gold and even a restaurant, the Gallery at Sketch, entirely washed in peachy pinks—experiments with faceted facades, domes and honeycomb ceilings in the interior architecture, as well as textures comprising decadent marble, cool concrete, furry velvet, coloured leather. In her work, there is that dose of decadence, history and also modern restrain, which is really not an easy balance to achieve. Can you not tell I am a bonafide fan?
Mahdavi’s collection for Bisazza features optical graphic motifs that are poppish and reminiscent of the 70s. Stripes, polka dots, bubbles, squares and multi-coloured patterns in wavy shapes lend to dynamism though endless repetition. They are available in two formats: 20x20cm square or 20x23cm hexagonal.
Says the architect of the collection, “My designs speak to us and to one another. They’re chatty, almost colloquial. In order to distinctly avoid static designs. I intend to free up space, allowing for a kind of visual dialogue between the tiles. Each tile is like a component of a visual alphabet. Before you know it, a conversation is being had.”
And we like her already.
The Bisazza Cement Tile collection is already available in European markets but will only be available in Singapore in 2016. Bisazza is available in Singapore at GF+A Global and Sinbor Company.
+ images courtesy of Bisazza