Neale Whi­taker:

Speck­led is spe­cial once again, thanks to the re­cent resur­gence of ter­razzo tiling

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - DELICIOUS - Neale Whi­taker is edi­tor-at-large of Vogue Liv­ing. by Neale Whi­taker

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.

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