If there’s one designer pushing terrazzo’s boundaries, it’s Australian-born Brodie Neill. Only his terrazzo isn’t made with marble chips. So-called Ocean Terrazzo, a composite material he developed by blending resin with bits of plastic culled from seas and beaches, is his go-to medium these days. During the London Design Festival, Neill showed his Flotsam furniture line, which includes a two-legged bench (pictured) topped with Ocean Terrazzo. At the same time, he debuted Drop in the Ocean, a multi-media installation incorporating the material, at ME London, the hotel designed by Foster + Partners. His aim, he says, is to prompt a rethink of plastics use, creating beauty out of waste in the process.
The qualities that have made terrazzo flooring desirable for centuries – strength, durability, a speckled elegance – are at play at 18 House, a tall, compact family home in a Ho Chi Minh City alley. Instead of pouring the material underfoot, however, the local architects behind the residence, Khuôn Studio and Phan Khac Tung, used it as exterior cladding, covering the building’s facade with a subtle blue-grey washed terrazzo punctuated at street level by a combination front door/scooter entrance (pictured) and by slit windows that regulate ventilation on the upper floors. Perhaps most unusually, the terrazzo was installed in a rippled fashion, lending it a rare fluidity.
Primo Terrazzo Tavolini
Some 500 years ago, Venetian labourers began mixing leftover marble chips with clay to create cheap, durable flooring, using goat’s milk to seal it and to bring out its shine. Today, everything from marble, granite and quartz to recycled glass, porcelain and metal goes into making terrazzo, currently undergoing a creative rebirth – and in service of much more than floors. London’s Theo Williams Studio, for one, looked to the mottled material when developing its Primo Terrazzo Tavolini for British manufacturer Another Brand. Embedded in cement, the irregular, multi-hued fragments add depth and sparkle to the line’s geometric shapes, appearing timeless and timely at once.