Matrice, the New Way

Their critical work in the area of new design has led them to establish the IN Residence project, which has now been running for a decade and promotes and highlights the leading up-and-coming talents in the next generation of international design.

The Luxonomist. 14/10/2016

“We have imagined a point of contact with CEDIT’s history, by continuing its collections’ tradition of extrovert creativity.»  Barbara Brondi and Marco Rainò (Turin, 1970), architects and designers, are the founders of BRH+. The firm, established in 2002, centres its theory and practice on design, expressed through an experimental, critical, curatorial approach that intentionally merges a number of separate disciplines.

Infused with this cross-contamination, their architectural projects – the subject of many publications both in Italy and abroad – are on different scales and have different intended uses, while their radius of action also includes graphic and product design, curation and artistic direction (they have worked, amongst others, for Vivienne Westwood, Subsonica, Marlene Kuntz and Adidas).

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Ceramic wall/floor tiles MATRICE (Photo: Ceramiche d’Italia)

Their critical work in the area of new design has led them to establish the IN Residence project, which has now been running for a decade and promotes and highlights the leading up-and-coming talents in the next generation of international design. With the backing of the Turin Chamber of Commerce, they have created and promoted the MARCA collection, bringing together outstanding design and manufacturing from the Turin area.

They have conceived and curated a large number of collective exhibitions over the years, including Over Design Over at the Rocca Paolina in Perugia in 2009 and Fatto in Italia at the Venaria Reale Palace in 2016. They were Art Directors of Bravacasa Interior Design monthly for RCS Periodici from 2011 to 2013 and for the contemporary furniture company LAGO since 2014. In addition to writing for Abitare, Domus and Inventario, Marco Rainò writes editorials for Icon Design and directs the Interior Design Department at IAAD, Turin.

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Ceramic wall/floor tiles MATRICE (Photo: Ceramiche d’Italia)

The Matrice ceramics collection.
In the Matrice collection, Brondi and Rainò investigate the different effects which can be achieved with the surfaces of ceramic materials, exploring their perceptive qualities and tactile variations, to build up a collection which takes concrete as its main inspiration and as a subject to be interpreted in accordance with original physical and aesthetic codes.

The project, which comprises a wide range of pieces offering great versatility in their possible mutual combinations, provides the basis for a rich spectrum of compositional solutions. In Matrice, figurative representation and abstraction merge to originate a product that sets out to redefine the expressive code of concrete, never merely imitated but interpreted with a critical eye.

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Ceramic wall/floor tiles MATRICE (Photo: Ceramiche d’Italia)

Featuring different surface effects, finishes and modular sizes, the Matrice collection is the starting point for constructing a ceramic alphabet with spacial coordinates suitable for various types of use – laid on floors or walls, outdoors or indoors – with an additional post-production process that creates a network of linear incisions which can be filled by hand with brightly coloured grouts to generate an infinite variety of geometric patterns: multiplied across the surface, these webs effectively mask the joints between the individual ceramic pieces, so that the right-angled laying grid is no longer visible.

The solid austerity of concrete, symbolically associated with an uncompromisingly modern architectural style, is contrasted with the warm connotations of graphic motifs taken from the Italian embroidery and textile traditions: the effect achieved by combining a hard, uniform material (concrete) with «pretty» decoration (the patterned incisions) produces unusual, highly expressive results.

Barbara Brondi y Marco Rainò
Barbara Brondi and Marco Rainò (Photo: Tullio Deorsola)

The design work, also inspired by typical characteristics of modernist architecture and the distinctive harmony of the bare concrete features of some projects of this type, has provided the stimulus for reinventing some ceramic finishes, allowing the creation of original, constantly fresh combinations for the design of living spaces of strong intensity and immense personality.

Geographic forms emerge from dense, grey concrete surfaces decorated by special processes and by weathering during drying. An atlas of slender monochromatic signs, vibrant on the dull surfaces. Concretes with stained, damaged surfaces, recording past events: hubs of intersecting lines that expand into infinite possible visual narratives in space. Matrice is an anti-system. A figurative code that rejects the concept of the grid, previously inseparable from that of the module, and instead generates a mass of infinite potential dialogues.

It is an alphabet of abstraction – in which BRH+’s work is clearly legible – geometrically copied onto the surface and then completed and developed by coloured fillings that create embroidered patterns. An open-ended work, conceived on an architectural scale and designed in generous spirit, Matrice has no form of its own but merely acquires the ornamentation drawn on its surfaces by a second group of artists, the people who choose this collection to style their living spaces.

 “We love concrete as a material, its versatility and its plain, austere look. We have completed our carefully designed surfaces with graphic patterning inspired by the human actions of weaving and embroidering.» Barbara Brondi & Marco Rainò.

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