Terrazzo tiles have a fascinating history, and are able to provide a unique combination of durability and attractiveness.
Terrazzo translates from Italian to mean ‘terrace’, and the first terrazzo tiles were actually just off-cuts and discarded pieces of marble, used by Italian labourers in Venice in the eighteenth century to create cost-effective outdoor and indoor paving. Using these odd-shaped off-cuts that would otherwise be unusable, they were able to create marble paving for living areas for a fraction of the price of bespoke marble slabs.
This form of terrazzo cracked easily, and so could only be used in small scale projects. However European craftsmen emigrated to the United States in the early 20th century, and brought the concept of terrazzo with them, and in the US two ingenious inventions helped drive the popularity and usability of terrazzo – divider strips and the electric grinder machine.
Divider strips, invented by L. Del Turco and Bros in 1924, contained the cracking of the tiles and allowed the marble to grow and contract after being placed. The electric grinding machine (and the associated increase in mechanisation and industrialisation) allowed the whole process to be quicker, easier and even more cost-effective.
Terrazzo played a huge part in the Art Deco and Moderne architectural styles in the early 20th century, and has continued to be immensely popular, due to its versatility, sustainability and beauty. One of the most famous and prominent examples of terrazzo tiling is the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where each star is made of terrazzo!
Terrazzo has gone through a wide variety of changes in its creation process and make-up, and today has regained the popularity it had in the early 20th century, largely due to its sustainability credentials. London’s Design Week in 2017 showed that architects and designers are once again turning to terrazzo, and adapting this historic material in a number of new and interesting ways.
Terrazzo tiles can be used in a wide variety of spaces, both indoor and outdoor, as their combination of style and durability means they can be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. They can provide neutral, soft textures to compliment other design choices, or be used boldly or as an accent, offsetting other materials like wood or metal. The versatility of the material means that they work well in both traditional and modern settings, and can be subtle or brash, depending on how you use it.
Terazzotto blends stylish, attractive design with durable and versatile materials to create the perfect combination of aesthetics and practicality.