Speckled is special once again, thanks to the recent resurgence of terrazzo tiling
On why terrazzo is once again taking the floor
I’m not saying it was only the chic charcoal terrazzo bathroom tiles that wooed me into buying our apartment, but they certainly helped. After the ghastly bright-blue ceramic ones we’d lived with in the bathroom-that-neverquite-got-renovated (I’d squint and pretend I was in Mykonos), those terrazzo tiles were a glimpse of heaven.
It’s interesting how the design pendulum swings. Not so long ago, terrazzo – chips of granite, quartz, marble and glass bound in polished cement or resin – was considered drably functional, the stuff of airport terminals, corporate foyers and shopping malls. Forms of terrazzo – a distant cousin of mosaic – have been used down the centuries, probably peaking in popularity in the early-to-mid decades of the 20th century. Terrazzo and Art Deco were particularly good friends, but as recently as the 1980s, terrazzo was a recurring motif for the influential Milan-based Memphis Group. “Not so long ago, terrazzo tiling was considered drably functional”
As my interior designer pal Darren Palmer (darrenpalmer.com) puts it: “Terrazzo fell out of favour when trends moved away from high levels of detail and towards minimalism. But trends swing back in due course, and the time for an artisan approach has come again.” It stands to reason that with interior design becoming more decorative (you could argue we’re entering a new era of maximalism), and with the renewed popularity of Deco-influenced design, terrazzo – with its myriad pattern and colour combinations – is back in the spotlight. Besides which, it’s sustainable in its use of recycled materials, and a great alternative to the surfeit of marble and marble-look finishes we’ve seen so much of recently. Palmer is choosing terrazzo for its ability to “feel fresh and contemporary while providing substance and integrity”.
“Terrazzo has exploded in popularity in Australia,” says Beaumont Tiles (beaumont-tiles.com.au) strategic designer Christie Wood. “Its playful clashes of materials create a sense of movement and vibrancy.” Wood adds that terrazzo “can be bold or soft, simply by changing its colours and chip sizes”.
And like marble, the terrazzo look is finding its way, not just to tiles and benchtops, but to furniture and home accessories, even fabrics and wallpapers. Designer Luisa Klinge (arkicreative.com. au) describes terrazzo as a “real head turner” and values its sustainability and versatility. “Terrazzo is warmer than marble,” she says. “It has a textural quality that makes it the perfect match for other tile finishes. It complements so many interior styles, like industrial, Scandi, classic, or my current favourite – the Palm Springs look.” Not to mention my beautiful bathroom.