The Terrazzo Project (TP) is a joint undertaking initiated in 2011 by Lausanne-based Canadian industrial designers Stéphane Halmaï-Voisard and Philippe-Albert Lefebvre. Born from a common interest in working with uncommon materials, TP investigates ways to use terrazzo for furniture and object design.
ECAL keeps producing designers with interesting & innovative ideas regarding materials - see more here - I cant help but take a closer look at and be inspired by the the work behind it, but the new forms produced.
- How did you become interested in Terrazzo?
We were looking to revive an obsolete material and adapt it to the requirements of contemporary design. Although a familiar sight, the materials name and manufacturing techniques are largely unknown; it is often thought to be formed of concrete. After some research, we realized that the last remaining active specialists are still in the Venice area. This scarcity further confirmed our resolve to carry out the project. We were fortunate enough to identify a family business who immeadiately understood our project's relevance and potential. A climate of trust was quickly established between us, and we plan to continue working together in the future.
- What was your choice in terms of form?
We feel this is consistent with the know-how and vocabulary associated with stonecutting or marble work, so we work primarily with blocks or layers and pay special attention to rounding. The forms we have chosen are essentially based on the material's structural features and physical properties.
- What constraints did you have to work with?
In adapting this heavy material to everyday objects that can be moved around and maintained easily , the greatest challenge was to strike a balance between solidity & weight. We developed an innovative formwork technique allowing us to reduce the weight by half compared to a solid stone table top. Two people can easily carry the heaviest parts - this is a far cry from Jean Prouve's granite tables, which weighed 400kg. The use of Murano glass in the terrazzo also meant high precision machining and hand finishing were required.
Terrazzo is a composite material produced from layers of cement interspersed by chips of glass, marble, quartz, granite or other appropriate material. The invention of Terrazzo can be traced to the 15th century when Venetian Artisans started to exploit construction residues to make highly resistant, low-cost surfaces principally used in flooring. Although Terrazzo is a recognizable material, its name and production techniques remain largely exotic and it is often assimilated with concrete. After probing further, Stephane and Philippe-Albert discovered that the last remaining authentic specialists are active in the Venetian area. The scarcity of true artisans accentuated their conviction in the pertinence of their effort and in their travels, they were fortunate to find a family enterprise that understood and embraced the promise of their project.
The result of two years of intensive material research and testing is a furniture collection including a series of tables and a suspended tube lamp built from slim, sturdy and lightweight terrazzo pieces. TP uses a special terrazzo blend composed of glass fibers and foam cores that allows for very thin profiles.
Models made from black marble Terrazzo are part of an unlimited series. A numbered production of eight copies, made in Murano glass and available in blue and red, is also proposed.