GRT Architects took inspiration from classical architecture for Flutes and Reeds cast concrete tiles for Kaza Concrete.
Brooklyn-based architecture studio GRT Architects was founded by Tal Schori and Rustam Mehta. Their practice includes residential and commercial projects like the renovation of Fashion Tower in Manhattan and the interior design of Objective Subject Offices as well as large-scale urban developments. In their work as architects GRT look for what makes each project unique and craft a response they hope to be as surprising as it is appropriate.
“We both studied history before we became architects. We knew we wanted to end up making things more than writing about them but it was important for us to begin with a broader education and to understand the cultures and contexts from which design emerges. We think most designers would agree that finding shared points of reference is important to establishing a communicable visual language. There was a time when visual culture was ‘small’ enough that most who interacted with architecture designed by architects could almost literally ‘read’ the built work, understanding its references, and inferences. That is clearly not the case today, for many good reasons, but we think there is something to be gained by approaching design in a way that has a legible relation to the past. We have made it a goal to go past what is exclusively offered by a site and try to understand how cultural, temporal, and geographic history can be mined to establish visual concepts for every project we work on.”
Flutes and Reeds
Fluting and reeding are among architecture’s oldest surface embellishments. The Greeks, and most who followed, treated these motifs as linear elements applied to columns, pilasters and walls. GRT Architects had the opportunity to rethink this relationship when designing a family of cast concrete tiles for KAZA Concrete, which in fact is the studio’s first product design. “We think every architect secretly wants to be making furniture and objects. There is an immediacy to design on a small scale that just does not exist working on even the smallest architectural projects; there is a great sense of not being in control.”
The inspiration to reach back to ancient Greek architecture came from its continuing legibility.
“Greek columns can be thought of as modules or tiles in a way. Their proportions have fixed rules, there are options for surface embellishments, base and top details. From that small set of instructions comes literally centuries of architecture – from the most austere to playful acts of virtuosity. This seemed like a good starting point to design a suite of tiles.
The ‘Flutes and Reeds’ family includes four individual designs: Single Flute, Triple Flute, Single Reed and Triple Reed.
We proposed a triangular tile to afford design possibilities by ‘clocking’ tiles in one hundred twenty degree increments and for the different grid arrangements they produce. Each triangle is, in effect, a slice of a ‘normal’ fluted or reeded column. When arranged in a well-behaved fashion they form a surface that would look familiar to the Greeks, overlaid with a subtle, triangular matrix. However, a number of unique patterns emerge when tiles are rotated.
One of the unexpected results of the triangular grid has been the ability to create patterns that vary from Western Classical motifs to arrangements that harken back to Meso-American pattern-making and various unknowns in between. We are excited by the balance of visual complexity and familiarity and by the knowledge that there are surely combinations we have yet to discover. “
The spirit at KAZA has been curious, intuitive, artistic and entertaining from the start, manifesting the care and skill invested in what we create. The resulting objects and installations challenge us to recognize the full potential of concrete and its casting.
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