Best in Show: Cersaie

High-re­lief tiles, in­clud­ing Guglielmo Poletti’s stand­out Seg­ments se­ries, take off

Azure - - CONTENTS - WORDS _Mark Teo PHO­TO­GRAPHS _Gi­u­lia Pier­mar­tiri gugliel­mopo­

Since grad­u­at­ing from De­sign Academy Eind­hoven less than three years ago, Ital­ian-born de­signer Guglielmo Poletti has been metic­u­lously re­fin­ing a min­i­mal yet idio­syn­cratic aes­thetic. He has added three pieces to his Equi­lib­rium col­lec­tion – the ex­plo­ration of bal­ance and ten­sion that first put him on Azure’s radar (see Novem­ber/de­cem­ber 2017) – and in the past year he has ex­hib­ited in Mi­lan, Paris and Lon­don. Poletti cap­tured our at­ten­tion again at Cersaie, the mas­sive tile expo held ev­ery Septem­ber in Bologna, Italy. His Seg­ments tile col­lec­tion gen­er­ated sig­nif­i­cant buzz and earned an ADI Ceram­ics & Bath­room De­sign Award for in­no­va­tion at the show. Ini­tially, Poletti ad­mits, he wasn’t en­am­oured with porce­lain sur­fac­ing. “It’s a field,” he says, “where ev­ery­thing has been tried.” For his first com­mer­cially pro­duced line, Poletti had lit­tle in­ter­est in cre­at­ing yet an­other wood- or mar­ble-look dec­o­ra­tive tile. In­stead, in this col­lab­o­ra­tion with Dec­o­ra­tori Bas­sanesi, he fo­cused on struc­tural qual­i­ties. Poletti was par­tic­u­larly fas­ci­nated with the grout-filled perime­ter of tiles. “Those grooves might feel ba­nal,” he says. “But, if you zoom in, you’ll no­tice they have this lit­tle bas re­lief that cre­ates a shadow.” Those nar­row, con­toured channels be­came the cen­tral con­cept be­hind Seg­ments, which fea­tures three dif­fer­ent pat­terns in gres porce­lain. The sur­faces of­fer cor­ru­gated planes with sub­tle ridges flanked by two-mil­lime­tre-deep re­cesses. “I was in­ter­ested in the idea of a very small ges­ture, the idea of cre­at­ing some­thing from noth­ing,” Poletti says. “I wanted some­thing that was sim­ple con­cep­tu­ally, but very tricky to achieve tech­ni­cally.” True to his word, Poletti’s project pushes ma­te­rial bound­aries – be­cause the tiles had to pre­cisely match edge to edge, the an­gles and pro­por­tions of each ridge had to be cal­cu­lated and moulded ex­haus­tively. It took nearly a year to de­sign, pro­to­type and pro­duce the col­lec­tion, but the re­sults are con­sis­tently sur­pris­ing. From afar, Seg­ments presents a straight­for­ward geo­met­ric pat­tern, while up close each tile is a minia­ture land­scape formed from pleas­antly sym­met­ri­cal peaks and val­leys. The ef­fect is el­e­gantly min­i­mal, cu­ri­ously del­i­cate and qui­etly play­ful. In other words, sig­na­ture Poletti.

Con­toured channels and sub­tle ridges char­ac­ter­ize the three it­er­a­tions of Guglielmo Poletti’s Seg­ments tile se­ries for Dec­o­ra­tori Bas­sanesi.

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