Competition entry for a temporary architectural installation during Salone del Mobile 2016 for the ceramic tile Italian company Florim
Milano, IT. 2016
A tile in the picture, a picture on the tile.
A simple cube in the middle of the space. A solid volume perceived from afar which reveals its fragility and warmth when inhabiting it. Like the old stone reliefs that tell us a story with their intricate embossed craft, Florim’s Cube showcases spaces of architecture through the inherent and tangible qualities of their product. A simple object that has many different interpretations engraved in its rich and multiple facets illustrating how materiality is a powerful driving force in design that engages people. The selected pictures are treated with a technique called halftone to produce a basic optical illusion (at a microscopic level, developed black-and-white photographic film is also based on this technique). Halftone simulates continuous tone imagery through the use of dots, varying either in size or in spacing, thus generating a gradient like effect. The enlarged halftone dots compose then a pattern that will be later engraved or perforated into the ceramic tiles with a laser machine.
The installation measures 3.2 x 3.2 x 3.2m and is made of the very same Florim’s ceramic tiles used in the selected architectural projects. As such, the medium to showcase the pictures is ‘extracted’ from the picture itself. Instead of showing a tile in the picture, the picture is shown on the tile. The exterior ceramic panels of the cube are perforated to transmit light from the interior or exterior. The interior panels are engraved with the halftone pictures. Next to each picture are engraved QR codes that visitors can scan with their mobile phones to access the digital copies of the engraved pictures, as well the relevant product and project information. The experience of the visitor is enhanced not only from the sense of touch of the different textures and finishes of the ceramic tiles, but also by how the perforations play with light to illuminate the interior space in the daytime, while at night interior lighting illuminates the cube, transforming it into a colossal lantern.
The construction of the cube displays the quality and innovation of Florim’s materials and it is composed of ten prefabricated modules. The whole system is fabricated in the workshop and will only require assembling with screws on site. Each module consists of engraved ceramic tiles, in different sizes and finishes, installed on medium density overlay (MDO) plywood panels which are identically perforated to align with the tiles. A timber frame structure will serve as the skeleton of the cube to which the panels will be mounted. Once the exhibition has finished, the Florim’s Cube can be easily dismantled and the modules transported and reassembled at other venues.