Italian Terrazzo Origins and Evolution
Terrazzo is one building material that has grown in popularity in recent times. Its artistic features have created some of the most beautiful masterpieces in buildings around the world. But to understand how terrazzo has opened our eyes to the many design possibilities we see today, we need to learn about the origins of terrazzo founded by the Italians during the 15th century.
Art in Italy
Walk around Italy and you will find a significant amount of artistic designs from architecture, portraits, and decorations. Through art, the Italians were able to depict their rich history, emphasizing politics and religion.
The Renaissance is a period that saw a renewed interest in classical learning and values throughout Italy. New technologies were invented during this time while artwork continued to emerge from talented artisans. Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Raphael are just some of the recognizable Italians to have impacted cultures around the world with their works of art, artwork that focused on expressing individualism and beauty.
Terrazzo flooring is like no other flooring system out there. Through designs, terrazzo floors today give buildings a story to tell. They help showcase vivid and detailed images that better connect people with their schools, hospitals, airports, and other spaces in the community.
Early Flooring in Italy
Many of Italy’s architectural buildings receive a lot of credit for their ceiling masterpieces; however, Italy’s flooring systems rival the ceilings with complex patterns that have lasted over the ages.
Marble floors are found all throughout Italy, particularly in cathedrals and hotels. To this day, marble flooring is revered for its elegance and prestige around the world. The floors were quite durable with the capabilities of designing colorful patterns.
Mosaic flooring is also one of the earliest and most exquisite floors found in Italy. Mosaics are commonly made from pieces of marble, glass, terracotta, or tesserae and laid in geometric patterns across a surface. The floorwork is extraordinary in regards to attention to detail and storytelling. Over the years, mosaic floors have been well-preserved with artistic displays helping us understand the Italian culture hundreds of years ago.
Terrazzo Flooring Origins
During the 15th century, mosaic tile and marble were in demand. Venetian craftsmen excelled in their line of work and came up with the idea of reusing remnants from their construction projects to form terrazzo.
Terrazzo, which means terraces in Italian, soon became an eco-friendly flooring system due to its recycling of materials. The small marble pieces were first used with clay to design inexpensive terraces at their homes.
Early Techniques of Italian Terrazzo
Installing a terrazzo is much easier and faster to complete than back in the 15th century. Venetian workers had the daunting task of rubbing the surface with a stone to smoothen the terrazzo. This eventually led to the invention of the Galera, a long handle that put less stress on an installer’s body while making it easier to install terrazzo.
Other ideas were introduced that improved terrazzo. Goat milk added brilliance and shine to a terrazzo floor. Cement eventually replaced clay. Soon the popularity of terrazzo began to grow throughout Italy and begin its expansion westward.
Terrazzo was first introduced in the United States during the 1890s. Afterward over 3 million Italian immigrated to the United States from 1900 and 1915. Italian Terrazzo is regarded as a craft that has been passed down for generations. Family businesses would hand down the trade from father to son. Today family businesses have been installing terrazzo for nearly 100 years, with people interested in learning the craft.
Evolution of Terrazzo
Like in Italy, terrazzo developed quickly upon arrival in the United States. The 1920s was an era where Art Deco styles were popular for building designs and terrazzo became the preferred material.
Electric grinders soon replaced the Galera, making installations easier and faster. The introduction of polymers, resins, and epoxy revolutionized terrazzo improving the flooring system with reduced cracking, more versatility in design, and increased durability.
Given its reputation for design flexibility, durability, and low maintenance, terrazzo is becoming an ideal choice for many locations around the world. Artistic floors are often found in hotels, restaurants, and schools that aim to create a hospitality-like setting that connects people with the space. Known for being a luxury finish, terrazzo is not just for high-end projects but has features like recycled materials and zero VOCs that make it popular for architects seeking LEED points. On top of that terrazzo is versatile to create products including flooring, stair treads, and more. The possibilities are far and beyond when working with terrazzo.
About Concord Terrazzo Company
At Concord Terrazzo Company we manifest the tradition of Italian craftsmanship in the terrazzo products we manufacture. Concord Terrazzo Company is a single-source terrazzo supplier producing epoxy resins, aggregates, and precast terrazzo for institutional, commercial, and industrial projects. We are dedicated to improving the industry with quality products and innovation and hope our customers can find the benefits of terrazzo for their design projects.