14 February 2008

today's word is tessellated! (learning new things on the internets)

today's word is: tessellated! tessellated is basically a fancy way of referring to a tiled or mosiac surface, and it's one of maison21's true favorite design-y words, alongside such great words as eglomisé, singerie and cerused- those big designer words you'll have to look up yourselves if you don't know them already, but here's the free dictionary definition of tessellated:

tes·sel·late (ts-lt)
tr.v. tes·sel·lat·ed, tes·sel·lat·ing, tes·sel·lates
To form into a mosaic pattern, as by using small squares of stone or glass.
[From Latin tesselltus, of small square stones, from tessella, small cube, diminutive of tessera, a square; see tessera.]

Adj. 1. tessellated - having a checkered or mottled appearance
2. tessellated - decorated with small pieces of colored glass or stone fitted together in a mosaic; "a tessellated pavement"

the art of applying stone as decorative pattern has been around a looong time- witness the following floor mosaic from pompeii, dating to the first century a.d.:
how modern looking is that?

the art form of mosaics applied to decorative objects probably hit it's zenith in the 16th century italian renaissance with the art of pietre dure, and at roughly the same time, the eastern masterpiece of the taj mahal (above images via wikipedia).

here's where tessellation comes into today's post- maison21 posted a while back on his ever increasing love for high-style furniture from the 80's, and he thought he'd post a little more in depth about one of his favorite furniture styles popular in that decade- furniture and accessories covered in tessellated fossil or coral stone. maison21 loves these pieces because they bring this ancient art form into the twentieth century, and we love modern takes on traditional styles. the late, great karl springer is largely responsible for the 80's trend of fossil stone pieces and he in turn borrowed a page from jean-michel frank's playbook by combining strong modernist forms with old world craftsmanship and luxurious materials.

(Karl Springer Tessellated Stone And Brass End Table, offered by assemblage, chicago- $5,250,via 1stdibs)
(Tesselated Stone Box with a wood liner and Brass Stringing, drake, palisades, NY, $950, via 1stdibs)
(Woman's Vanity Clad in Tesselated Granite, lobel modern, nyc, $6,500, via 1stdibs)

(Large Stone Tile Coffee Table by Maitland Smith, fat chance, los angeles, $3,400, via via 1stdibs)

the fossil stone pieces designed by mr. springer in the 70's & 80's were handcrafted in the philippines, and inspired a slew of others to produce similar items- from the high-end 1980's & 1990's pieces by maitland-smith, to a multitude of anonymous knockoffs available at mid-price retailers. because of the handmade nature of the stone, furniture-sized pieces were never really offered at mass market level, though smaller accessories were sold at retailers like pier one and cost plus (and still are available to this day- maison21 saw a tessellated capiz shell mirror at target a while back). the tessellated stone furniture industry still exists in the philippines (and one assumes, probably in china, too, since everything seems to be made there in 2008), and tessellated fossil stone or coral stone pieces can occasionally still be found in the lines of various furniture importers - maison21 knows that at least one company,
ironies, has tessellated stone still in their line, and there are probably others as well (loving the wood grain fabric on the chair in the ironies ad, btw):

(Game Table with Sculptural Legs in Tesselated Fossilized Coral, lobel modern, nyc, $9,500, via 1stdibs)

(Signed Maitland Smith Oblisk Lamps, vermillion, miami, $2,300, via 1stdibs)

maison21 himself has sold some great vintage tessellated pieces over the years to high-end boutiques, as well as to some of the top designers in the industry, but generally tessellated fossil stone pieces from the 80's are still relatively unknown, and thus undervalued (maybe not on 1stdibs, but you can find bargains available in other outlets, like ebay, flea markets and the like).
large tessellated fossil stone box sold by maison21

large tessellated coral stone bird sculptures sold by maison21

recently, maison21's friend, and fellow ebay seller, swellpad, sold a great fossil stone console table for a song (below), and maison21 usually has a piece or two of the stuff in his store at varying price points. maison21 has a feeling (and maybe a bit of inside knowledge) that these vintage fossil stone pieces are going to become very HOT very soon, so his advice is to snap them up now if you see them!

tessellated fossil stone console table sold by swellpad

(glam tessellated fossil stone writing table offered by maison21)

now, if you like the look of tessellated fossil stone, be sure to visit back in the next few days, because in our next post, maison21 is going to tell you how can score some tesselation for your very own- absolutely free! how about that? (sweepstakes is long over, sorry).


Easy and Elegant Life said...

Thanks I needed that to get over the winged back chair.... yikes.

maison21 said...

yeah, that chair wasn't the most popular thing i've posted.

could you imagine having it your home? i'd be scared that it would come alive in the middle of the night and eat me.

scary stuff.

Pigtown-Design said...

Maison... are these things heavy? Like lead? I think they're gorgeous and I love learning new words!

maison21 said...

hi meg-

glad "tessellated" is new to you! i just love to say it, because i like the way it sounds. wish i could use it more often in conversation, like "how are you today?" "i'm totally tessellated! thanks for asking!"

that's a great question about the weight, because the pieces look really heavy, don't they? but they aren't really much heavier than the same piece made of just wood- the stone layer is a pretty thin veneer, about 1/8" to 1/4" thick over a wood frame. the actual stone used is quite porous- it's a fossilized coral, so it has lots of microscopic little air chambers which makes it comparatively light for a stone. most of the weight of the pieces would depend on the type of wood used underneath more than the actual stone, probably. and like anything else, if mdf is used under the stone, it will weigh a ton!

maybe i should add this info to the actual post! thanks again for asking!

Pigtown-Design said...

Great answer! I hadn't thought about the stone being used as a thin veneer... i was thinking more like tiles.

xo to you and mona!

Bayou Contessa said...

great stuff!

Habitually Chic said...

Fabulous! I love learning new things from my blogger friends! I feel smarter already!