This article was originally published on Domus 1074, December 2022.
In the heart of the Mediterranean, a project has been initiated that epitomises the spirit of contemporaneity, by joining craftsmanship, tradition and international design. Thanks to an idea of Astrid Stavro – graphic designer and former partner of the celebrated Pentagram studio – Huguet, a longstanding tile manufacturer established in 1933 on the Majorca, has engaged seven partners from Pentagram to come up with a series of products by using traditional methods from the Balearic Islands, where this production has been a consolidated practice since the late 19th century. The result is fresh, ironic, modern and sophisticated. These products – mostly tiles but also a coffee table, small modular sculptures and garden accessories – reflect the imagination of each designer who, in some cases, has paid homage to masters from the past, while in others has sought to enhance sustainable, local and recycled materials, or has added a technological component to satisfy a specific need.
The graphic aspect is a key feature of this project. The tiles by Sascha Lobe, beginning from a study of Le Corbusier’s Modulor, bear typographical elements that can be combined to create mosaics or even words. Giorgia Lupi has conceived a decoration that graphically portrays the 24 Preludes of Chopin, with shapes and colours representing the musical elements. Luke Powell, meanwhile, has drawn inspiration from the Earth’s geological layering processes by stripping away the surface layers of the tiles and exposing the inner ones to create patterns of great visual impact. For her part, the project’s promoter Astrid Stavro has designed the RE Tiles collection, choosing to use parts of the Posidonia oceanica, a seagrass from the Mediterranean Sea. One of the world’s most powerful natural defences against climate change, this plant plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the marine ecosystem.
In addition, some creatives chose to start with Huguet’s typical materials or techniques and embark on various personal paths. For example, Matt Willey designed a coffee table whose top is decorated with 16 tiles: three different sets allow users to create almost endless compositions by rotating, turning or swapping each tile. As well as the table, the project includes a desk and tile packaging in biodegradable material. The latter has an alluring look that gives appeal to its reuse, which is the true frontier of sustainability. This is the new dimension of tomorrow’s luxury: high quality objects made with consolidated techniques, the result of years of local tradition, at the service of free and boundless creativity.