In collaboration with the SBGA architecture firm in Milan, KPF enthusiastically embraced the idea of studying a collection able to use cutting-edge production techniques to create a modern material expression. The designers sought to achieve the appearance and diversity of natural materials, enhancing them with the desirable technical characteristics of porcelain stoneware.
The City Collection by KPF evolved from the collaboration with Casalgrande Padana, with an ambition to create a new porcelain stoneware tile collection for use in a wide range of interior applications. The intention was to create a new material expression, an authentic version of the modern ceramic manufacturing process, with a material able to boast the strength and technical performance of ceramics, coupled with the aesthetic qualities and diversity of natural stone.
Inspired by the four international cities KPF has a lengthy relationship with, having worked on various buildings and in various neighbourhoods over the years, The City Collection comes in four textures (Hong Kong, London, New York and Shanghai), in a 60x120 cm size, with a thickness of 9 mm and a natural surface.
The City Collection derives from the aspiration to create a series of porcelain stoneware tiles able to embody the subjective experience of each of the places, featuring references to the character, materials, urban shapes and patterns of these fabulous cities. The patterns and textures are the result of a close look into the nature of each city, on various levels, and of a subsequent process of simplification and abstraction designed to create surfaces resembling natural materials. From a distance, the tiles in the collection are perceived as finely grained surfaces, with subtle variations in colour and texture. When viewed at close range, however, it is possible to discern the geometric patterns the inspiration came from. KPF enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to develop a collection that uses the latest production techniques to create a modern material expression, authentic to the manufacturing process. The designers sought to achieve the aesthetic qualities of natural materials, with the desirable characteristics of man-made ceramics, to develop a range that could be used in place of stone or concrete.
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) is one of the world’s top architecture firms, providing architecture, interior, programming, and masterplanning services for clients in both the public and private sectors. As a unified practice of nine global offices and around 700 staff, the firm is focused on the design of buildings and environments of all types and scales, in all geographic regions. Our projects include the world’s tallest towers, longest spans, most varied programmes and inventive forms. The goal that binds our work, and what motivates our efforts, is finding the smartest solution for each project. We believe that the best design is the product of an open-minded search, one without preconceptions or stylistic formulas. Every project we engage in, whether it is a single building or a whole new neighbourhood, emerges from its own unique context; physical, historical, social, cultural or political. Although a completely different challenge, this same approach has been applied to the design of the City Collection for Casalgrande Padana.
Brian Girard, Design Principal, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates: “In our approach to this project, we asked ourselves this: what potential does contemporary ceramic material have to reflect the pleasure we derive from a natural material, without simply creating a replica of it? How can we embody the atmosphere of a city as if it were an abstraction? Our aim was to shape elegant concepts that could be grasped by everyone, admired simply as patterns within a setting, and which could be interpreted as part of a wider theme. The project illustrates our team’s approach to design, from the scale of a single tile to that of a major urban project, which combines a profound understanding of the context with the desire to embrace the contemporary potential of craftsmanship.”