written by:
May 10, 2011

As part of last month's Milan Design Week, Zaha Hadid Architects teamed with LEA Ceramiche to create "Twirl," a mesmerizing installation in the 18th-century courtyard of the State University in Milan. It was up for only a week and has since been disassembled, but since I just received some beautiful pictures of the piece I figured I'd share.

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The tiles shift color from 'milk white' to 'coffee black.'
The tiles shift color from 'milk white' to 'coffee black.'
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A view of the installation from under the arcade of the State University in Milan.
A view of the installation from under the arcade of the State University in Milan.
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A nighttime view, all lit up with Artemide fluorescent tubes.
A nighttime view, all lit up with Artemide fluorescent tubes.
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An aerial view.
An aerial view.
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zaha1
Architect 

In contrast to the square courtyard, the porcelain tiled surfaces ripple out from a center space, shifting colors in a gradient from black to white and creating sinuous geometric patterns.

The tiles shift color from 'milk white' to 'coffee black.'
The tiles shift color from 'milk white' to 'coffee black.'

The floor is tiled as well, and the edges of the installation are pixellated. A series of fluorescent light tubes (specially produced by Artemide) spread light from the center outwards, lighting the existing architecture (a heavily colonnaded facade) and forming a link, as LEA Ceramiche would have it, "between the rigid Cartesian setting and the linear fluidity of the installation."

A view of the installation from under the arcade of the State University in Milan.
A view of the installation from under the arcade of the State University in Milan.
A nighttime view, all lit up with Artemide fluorescent tubes.
A nighttime view, all lit up with Artemide fluorescent tubes.

It's a promotional effort by the tile company, of course, to show off their new Slimtech line (the "latest-generation laminated porcelain tiles"—a super-thin tile that comes in sheets up to three by one meters)—but it's also an compelling project that shows the potential of tiles to move beyond floors and walls and into three-dimensional space.

An aerial view.
An aerial view.

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