Neolith® patterns are pushing the boundaries of what colours and textures are possible from compact surfaces
Renowned Catalan chef Albert Adrià’s vision to create an out of the world restaurant with an enigmatic, immersive ambiance, took shape when 2017 Pritzker Prize winner RCR Arquitectes drew their design idea in watercolors and brought it to life with the expertise and technical know-how of Neolith® Thesize, manufacturer and designer of Sintered Stone.
From paper to slab
RCR, in collaboration with architect Pau Llimona, drew a watercolor painting in the size of two A3 papers, which was to be applied to the floors, walls, bathrooms, kitchen worktops, cabinetry and air extraction systems. However, a watercolor design had not been done on Sintered Stone before, thus posing an unprecedented
challenge. Carlos Garcia, Product Designer at Thesize explains: “We had to expand the original design, all the while trying not to lose the quality of definition offered by the original drawing. Each pixel was equal to two meters of final floor.”
Through R&D, Neolith developed the technology to re-create the design onto slabs, producing a perfect replica of the drawing. Once this was achieved, an exact color match had to be sourced, as the required green and blue tones are unusual hues for sintered surfaces. The intensity of the colors had to fit in with the other materials and decorations throughout the restaurant to achieve a unified environment. Using Neolith’s proprietary digital printing decoration technology NDD (Neolith Digital Design), the architect’s design brief was fully met.
The architects wanted every slab to be of irregular texture like Neolith’s Riverwashed, but with a subtle shine to provide a surface that is multisensory interesting to the eye and inviting to touch. “Neolith is a contemporary material with many properties. We have been so surprised by its possibilities that we are now using it for other projects,” say the architects.
The floor presented the biggest challenge because of its sheer size. Each slab was unique and had to be perfectly put together in order to deliver a continuous design. Neolith initially installed the entire floor off-site and used a drone to take images from above, thus ensuring that there were no inconsistencies.
RCR Arquitectes and Llimona designed an organic space full of curves and narrow aisles and required the slabs to be cut down into six smaller pieces, the smallest being only 3 cm wide. Absolute precision was key to guarantee the uniformity of the watercolor design. Taking inspiration from a map, a coordinate system was put into place, labelling every single slab to know its exact position in the project. This way, the installers on location were able to piece the interior together like a puzzle.
The end result is spectacular in terms of design and material quality. As the architects say: “Enigma is an enveloping space that melts, disappears, almost a labyrinth. Between materiality and conformation, a whole series of organic movements are created. Shadows, transparencies, and a watery presence, nebular.”
Neolith® surface material from Thesize
Castellón, Spain-based Thesize launched the Neolith® brand in 2011 as a high-end compact surface with revolutionary physical and technical features. A term meaning “new stone,” Neolith® combines the best natural raw materials with stateof-the-art technology to create a high-tech slab for use in exterior and interior construction: kitchen and bath countertops, furnishings, flooring and facades.
The product is 100% natural, composed of raw material - clays, feldspar, silica and natural mineral oxides, and is recyclable. It has
near-zero porosity, making the product hygienic, stain resistant, easy to clean, and impervious to chemicals. It is also wear, scratch, heat resistant and its colors, being natural base, do not vary when exposed to UV rays. Being lightweight, it is easy to install, making it suitable for almost every indoor and outdoor surface application.
The product is created through the company’s proprietary sinterization technology, exposing minerals and other raw materials to extremely high pressure and temperature (over 1200 degrees Celsius/2200 degrees Fahrenheit), resembling the way natural stone forms over thousands of years, in just hours. The process gives the product outstanding physical and mechanical properties in terms of compaction, resistance and durability.
The various styles are a result of Neolith’s® innovative Digital Design (NDD) decoration technique. This system has revolutionized Neolith® patterns and is pushing the boundaries of what colours and textures are possible from compact surfaces.