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When Tile and Tech Collide

The innovative BOLLA system from Incontroardito illustrates how Old World charm and modern technologies can work together to transform a space.


The innovative BOLLA system from Incontroardito illustrates how Old World charm and modern technologies can work together to transform a space.

Designers intuitively understand that some of the most interesting and successful combinations come from the marriage of completely different elements. It’s a classic formula, and one that seems to drive much of modern interior and product design—think of the pairing of wood looks with ceramic tiles or the juxtaposition of bold patterns with neutral surfaces. Sometimes the combination is purposeful, sometimes it’s serendipitous, and sometimes it just doesn’t work, but when it does, the result is exciting and fresh.

One of the most innovative combinations of diametrically opposed materials can be found in the new BOLLA tile system from Incontroardito. The system combines Old World charm with the latest technologies, pairing crystal and Italian marble with tiny LEDs to create unique blocks of soft, ambient light.

“BOLLA is a monolithic slab obtained by the overlapping and gluing of slabs of different materials in order to constitute a single block,” explains Filippo Ardito, CEO of Ceramica Incontro, the company behind Incontroardito’s BOLLA. “After a mechanical process, the block assumes a particular section, convex or concave, and a circle or ring of glass appears. After the application of a lighting system, the ring or circle of glass generates a new light that seems as if it’s residual of a body that emanates brightness, thanks to the crystal itself.”

These convex and concave shapes that are formed within the slab create the inspiring circular effects, or bubbles, that make BOLLA so unique. The bubbles are then united with RGB LEDs to backlight the tile through the crystal glass, highlighting the beauty of the naturally occurring veins that run through the marble.

What’s more, the RGB control system for BOLLA has been designed to allow each tile to be individually controlled or changed, allowing designers and facility managers to dial in specific lighting effects based on the time, the desired mood, client preferences and more.

To accomplish this, each block in an installation is connected to a sophisticated network capable of creating precise scenes and lighting effects. With the help of a Wi-Fi enabled tablet, users can program a single color, fade in and out, change the lighting intensity, and adjust the speed of color changes for a single block. If that seems too detailed or overwhelming, users can also opt to have the system manage itself in a dynamic way, so that the intensity and frequency of the lighting effects change over time, in response to music or a number of other factors.

In addition, BOLLA’s design is based around a free-floating framing system, which removes worry over long-term LED failure by allowing for future maintenance of the color changing system. The tiles can simply be lifted out to gain access and returned to their original position in the frame without harming the wall, substrate or overall design.

The original concept for BOLLA was born from the creative mind of Domenico De Palo, an innovative Italian designer with an unmistakable hand. Thanks to a lucky encounter with De Palo and an immense amount of research and experimentation, Incontroardito has introduced a revolutionary product that promises to customize and enhance a wide variety of spaces.

“The goal from the beginning was to create a product that architects and designers could use to create a unique atmosphere in the environments designed,” says Ardito. “The feedback of many architects confirm that. Halls of hotels, a lounge bar, a bathroom in a luxury restaurant or hotel, a wellness center, a meeting room … they all become unique using BOLLA.”

As this new tile system represents the perfect marriage between modern technology and organic elements, perhaps it’s only fitting that the inspiration behind it was also a mixture of the natural and technological. “A drop of rain on the windshield of a car illuminated by headlights inspired the project,” Ardito says, making BOLLA the result of some truly serendipitous collisions, indeed.