NEW YORK—Every year at Coverings attendees flock to the Italian pavilion. In a new twist, next year the 3,000-square-foot pavilion will be transformed into a striking topography-inspired piazza as envisioned by e+i studio. The architecture and design firm based here was selected as the winner of the Ceramics of Italy Exhibit Design Challenge and will design the next Ceramics of Italy pavilion at the fair in April.
Sponsored by Confindustria Ceramica, the Association of Italian Ceramics, and hosted by Architizer, an online community of architects, the Ceramics of Italy Exhibit Design Challenge called on architects from around the world to submit their designs for the pavilion. Given relatively free artistic reign and a reasonable budget, entrants were asked to incorporate a restaurant and café, space for an information desk and re-usable components to reflect the Italian tile industry’s commitment to sustainability. Over 80 architecture firms submitted entries.
Representatives from Confindustria Ceramica, Architizer as well as an advisory committee of previous exhibit architects including Bernard Tschumi, Laurinda Spear and Michael Johnson, all reviewed the proposals for the contest. After much deliberation, Eva Perez de Vega and Ian Gordon, founders of the e+i studio, were chosen as the winners for their inventive “Piazza Ceramica” design. Based on the idea of an Italian piazza, their concept features a large open gathering space with gradual steps reminiscent of a piazza church.
According to e+i designers, the topographic mounds can be recreated into many different piazza-like configurations. They will be awarded a $10,000 design fee and $15,000 project management fee to oversee fabrication and installation of the pavilion.
“We’re so pleased with the level of creativity and design excellence generated from all over the globe,” said Vittorio Borelli, vice president of Promotional Activities at Confindustria Ceramica. “It’s a pity we could not build them all.”
Johnson, who is principal of Michael P. Johnson Studio, added, “The proposal by e+I, studio is a clever concept of carving out the functional requirements of the project. A landscape of tile cladded topography ‘steps’ will successfully draw attention to the booth while the plaza located in the valley between the hills will create a rich experience.”
Spear, founding principal of Arquitectonica, noted, “’Piazza Ceramica’ is unique for the way it utilizes the edges of the pavilion. The two corners that have been ‘lifted’ off the ground and provide quick access to the cafés along the corridor, while the embracing central gathering space is reminiscent of a valley within the pavilion.”
Ceramics of Italy is now working with the e+i studio design team to finalize the plans for the pavilion, which will be on view at Coverings from April 17 to 20, in Orlando, Fla.
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