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06/01/2010

A New Look for Ceramic Tile

TAU/Porcelanatto’s selection of Karim Rashid to design a new line, NO-Stalgia, is a big part of the company’s rebranding program.


By Janet Wiens
Karim Rashid has more than 3,000 designs in production and his work can be found in more than 35 countries

Part of the wonder of the design community involves the breadth of artistry that is evident in every product type. While some designers and their clients gravitate to products with a tie to designs that are decades old, others seek a path without references to any historical time period. Such is the case with TAU/Porcelanatto’s new line, NO-Stalgia, which was developed in collaboration with industrial designer Karim Rashid. Vibrant in color with bold patterns, this line of porcelain tile is part of the company’s effort to rebrand the Porcelanatto name while bringing inspiration to the marketplace.

According to Paco Cid, marketing director for TAU, the company’s decision to partner with Rashid was very strategic. “Porcelanatto is a very well-known brand in the ceramic industry, but the company had economic problems and stopped production,” he says. “We considered the chance to acquire the brand a good opportunity to access the contract market while offering products of a similar quality to our existing lines.”

TAU/Porcelanatto is a member of the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturer’s Association, and company officials believed that they needed something striking for the first offering after their acquisition—in order to grab the attention of other designers and potential clients. They decided that Rashid offered the creativity they wanted and that he would be able to help them realize their vision.

“Mr. Rashid is one of the most respected avant-garde designers to date,” says Cid. “We believed that he could bring great value to the process.”

Cid also notes that Rashid had absolute freedom during the design process based on the belief that creative design must be respected in order to maintain the designer’s inspiration and personality. “We were very impressed when we initially saw the designs,” says Cid. “The line holds a great deal of bold color and flavor and encourages people to see beyond the status quo … to look toward the possibility of something unexpected. I think Mr. Rashid encourages people to let go of their traditional views of design and to embrace something new and fresh, which we believe is the case with NO-Stalgia.”

The line features four inkjet-printed, 24-inch by 24-inch glazed porcelain tiles that are suitable for use on any indoor surface, particularly floors and walls. All of the tiles are manufactured at TAU’s facilities in Spain.

For those who are unfamiliar with his work, Rashid has more than 3,000 designs in production and has won more than 300 awards. His work spans numerous markets—from tiles and seating to waste cans, light fixtures and products for Dirt Devil and Method. Equally impressive, he has worked in 35 countries to date.

Rashid believes that design must be about the beautification of the built environment, and NO-Stalgia relates to that belief. “My desire is to see people live in the modus of our time,” he says. “We need to participate in the contemporary world and release ourselves from nostalgia and antiquated traditions. The key is the human element … the human scale … the human condition. I believe that design can create new and progressive human behaviors and new languages.”

Rashid further believes that ornamentation is a modus operandi for communication. The goal is to move the eye, and to break up surfaces to embellish and give richness to materials and objects.

“The patterns in NO-Stalgia are my vision of the digital 2.0 data that constantly streams around us,” explains Rashid. “Some people smell colors or taste sounds, but I visualize binary data.”

The NO-Stalgia Collection has four patterns—Sensory, Poetic, Emotion and Desire—and it is easy to see the binary reference in Sensory, which is available in gray, nude, pink, and blue. Poetic blends cubes and ripples and boasts blue, aqua, pink, and midnight shades. Emotion, in contrast to Poetic, is more structured with a strong grid. Its colors of fire orange, gray, lime, and carbon further accentuate the bold design. Finally, Desire features a star pattern and is available in violet, jet, gray, and lime.

“The four patterns speak to what I consider a new spiritualism—the spirit of the digital and information age,” says Rashid. “In our digital age, we see new digitally-inspired decorative language taking place.”

The collection is obviously suited for the hospitality market, where a number of designers and their clients desire a contemporary, avant-garde feel. Officials at TAU also believe that the collection holds great promise for use in residential applications as well.

NO-Stalgia is prominently featured at Casa Décor Madrid 2010. In the Show House, the Poetic and Emotion patterns are featured in the main bathroom, which was designed by Guillermo Garcia Hoz exclusively using designs by Rashid. In the café/bar, which was designed by Pepe Martin Puerto + Studio Arte, the jet model from the Desire pattern covers the dining room.

Both Cid and Rashid believe that NO-Stalgia has a bright future. The collection can be expanded, and its attributes of durability, hygiene and easy maintenance make the product attractive from an aesthetic and operational perspective—certainly the perfect combination for a successful rebranding effort.

Janet Wiens is a freelance writer based in Memphis, TN. She was formerly a marketing manager for HNTB and now works with industry clients to address their marketing and public relations needs. She can be reached at jwiens@bellsouth.net.


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