Designed by Lorenzo Baldini and Antonio Pisano of the Marcel Mauer firm, the new showroom occupies three floors, each with its own specific purpose and vocation.
To create a unique, multi-purpose space that would also function as a networking hub for collaborations with designers, a venue for cultural events and a major materials archive. This was the concept behind the design of the Marazzi showroom in London, as envisaged by architects Lorenzo Baldini and Antonio Pisano of the Marcel Mauer firm, who imagined each of the building’s floors being used for a different purpose: the ground floor hosts activities aimed at the public, enticing people in with a real ‘wow’ factor; working areas are located on the first floor to make the most of the natural light, while the basement level has been transformed into a vault-like space.
The entrance is eye-catching, evoking a dramatic scene change. A portal, a veritable second facade, creates a theatrical curtain: the stoneware slabs converge in a striking composition that conveys precision, attention to detail and innovation. The ceramic material employed is both protagonist and background and the installation is not simply a way of showcasing the product, but becomes a narrative device, the chance to tell a story or put across an idea.
Crossing this second threshold, one comes to the main area, a welcoming space that draws inspiration from ancient theatre design, with solid steps rising up towards the ceiling and forcing the observer to look at the material not only as a covering, but also as a volume. These unexpected blocks are imposing and almost outsized, there to be admired but also to be used as seating for presentations and performances. Each set of steps is made with different stoneware: concrete effect, marble effect and stone effect, all however featuring the same colour shading from dark to lighter hues, a trick that helps bring the space together and emphasise its vertical dimension. The fourth corner, meanwhile, is taken up by the spiral staircase, encased in a great black drum covered with three-dimensional mosaic tiles.
The first floor has been designed to provide a flexible working area, a bright open space that reflects the industrial mood of Clerkenwell as faithfully as possible. To achieve this, all the interior partitions have been eliminated, leaving one big open space, a cross between an artist’s atelier and an architectural studio. The dominant feature in this space is a massive, 20-metre-long meandering table that can be used for individual as well as team work. White domes suspended above the table define separate working areas and ensure acoustic comfort.
The remainder of the room faithfully maintains many original features: the main wall in exposed red brickwork becomes a background for presenting mood boards of ceramic materials, which thus resemble huge paintings. The large steel-frame windows with multiple panes provide the chance to create work surfaces that can be used for displaying the stoneware slabs stored in the shelving system below.
Heading downstairs, we come to the basement level, designed to function not only as an archive, but also as a useful area and a consultation space. With this in mind, it was decided to create a made-to-measure, floor-to-ceiling bookcase with over 140 drawers, designed to hold the entire product catalogue: this simple move frees up the remainder of the space, which can therefore be used for visitors.
Ph Paul Read