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The Factory Floor

The Factory Floor was an installation of 8,000 handmade coloured ceramic floor tiles at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, celebrating material generosity and craft in architecture.

We developed the tiles specifically for the project, as a reinvention of the traditional encaustic floor tile. Made from unglazed, vitrified clay, the colours and patterns are formed from the clay body itself, meaning they never fade. Encaustic tiles were originally popularised by the Victorians, who valued their durability and vibrance, using them to pave the floors of many of that era’s grandest buildings.

The installation created a spectacular new floor for the Chini Room in the Biennale’s Central Pavilion. Combining close, considered detail and the visual power of the expanse, this ‘floor-de-force’ was a nod to the highly decorative floors of Victorian churches and municipal structures from the heydey of encaustic tile production.

We were interested in rethinking the encaustic tile by applying our experimental manufacturing ethos to this historic process. They are made by randomly combining pieces of different coloured clays in a mould under extreme pressure. Each one captures a moment of chance in the act of making and they are all different.

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