Tijs Gilde’s Gravel collection, a line of silica furnishings the designer unveiled at SaloneSatellite 2018, epitomize beauty in the rough.
You may not want to run your hand over the surfaces of Tijs Gilde’s latest creations, a series of roughly textured silica furnishings including vases, lidded vessels and sculptural outdoor side tables. But the young Dutch designer, who has worked as a trend strategist for brands such as Ikea, is okay with that. In fact, it’s rather the point of his colourful Gravel collection, which he showed at SaloneSatellite during Milan Design Week.
“I was reflecting on how our digital society is more attuned to things that aren’t real or physical, but also craves things that bring it back in touch with being human,” Gilde says from Eindhoven, where he studied and now works. By creating something enticing out of a “very rough, elemental” substance, he explains, he’s compelling users to take full stock of the objects in their midst, of the process undertaken to make “even harsh materials suitable for interior purposes.”
Upending assumptions about how products should look and function is characteristic of Gilde’s work. For Gravel, his process involves sourcing silica, a sandstone component commonly used for flooring, “straight from the quarry,” then tinting it black, blue and other shades. “In the flooring industry, they paint the grains with PU paint, but I use natural pigments,” Gilde says. “The one exception is black; I couldn’t get such a dark colour with natural pigments.”
To bind the grains, Gilde uses the same epoxy the industry does, but at a dramatically lower ratio. “This means that this product is not only 96-per-cent pure stone, but also doesn’t require any energy like heat to be produced. I add the epoxy to the gravel and mix it, add the pigment powder and then put the mix in a mould.”
The result: tall, minimalist vases (sealed so water won’t seep through) and porous outdoor tables (left unsealed so rainfall filters to the ground). “When experimenting, you look for a material’s innate qualities,” Gilde says. “In this case, silica can be porous, so also making something for outdoor use was logical.”