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.:
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).
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)