Tiles for Philippe Starck’s Smart Tribe

General / People / Places / Products / November 29, 2012

At the Cersaie Tile Show in Bologna two months back, Ceramica Sant’Agostino announced its partnership with French architect Philippe Starck.  The designer brings a new interpretation to ceramic tiles, creating edges that vary in thickness, with near-seamless joints in some places and dramatic rises in others.  We interviewed him via email this month:

What inspired this collaboration?

Can we imagine the first man who took some mud and had the strange idea to cook it? Why? And after that, all these hundreds of thousands of human lives who have continued, piece by piece, slab by slab, success after failure, failure after success, to try to do better and better, to improve it. It is a beauty; it is still a question though. The only answer I have, is, perhaps it is a deep love affair with the mud, the soil, the earth, the intuition of the universe. The people, the family of Ceramica Sant’Agostino, are part of this story, part of the history. They have refined and refined to reach what we have today: a miracle. That is the transformation of mud into treasure. The beauty of the story obliges me to want to be part of it. Ceramica Sant’Agostino is the best to continue the vision and to try to reach another level of dream.

What’s the intent of the system and the design?

“Flexible Architecture” brings through a new vision a different angle of view, a new territory. The “Flexible Architecture” collection gives up two dimensions to the profit of three dimensions in order to offer infinity of new dimensions and possibilities. The tile is no longer decoration – it becomes part of the architecture. The ugly joint used to be a problem, now the ugly joint becomes more than an advantage. It becomes a reason to exist. It is a mental game, which becomes a mental space. It is just the beginning of an endless potential of new creativity to serve architecture and architects.

How about the color palette?  What inspired that?  How do you describe it?

It is a confrontation of colors stemming from nature and determined colors related to the art world.

Who’s the target market?

I never think of target market for my creations. I only think of the benefit, the profit the users of my creations may get. I would say this relates to my sentimental tribe, what I call the smart tribe; people who question everything and who share the same values, like honesty, creativity, humour, vision, etc …

There’s a mixture of thicknesses and finishes?  How does that work, and to what effect?

The intention is really to start from a two-dimensional universe and transform it onto a three-dimensional one.

What does an architect like Philippe Starck bring to the table?

When I work on a project I always question myself: does this project deserve to exist? Collaborating with Ceramica Sant’Agostino was a part of the answer; the second part was to really come with a proposal that leaves entire creativity to interior designers so that they make up their own pattern with a flexible tool; it is what I would love to have for my interior design projects.

For more information, go to http://www.ceramicasantagostino.it/en/stampa-news/dettaglio/158

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.




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