Tom Austin -- Interior Design, 3/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
A six-year-old Italian group of mosaic and surfacing companies, Trend straddles past and present, spiritual and secular. (Vide restoration work at the Vatican and the 24-karat-gold mosaic in the swimming pool at Milan's Bulgari Hotel.) The site of Trend's first U.S. showroom perfectly suits that balance: It's a former convent in Miami. The chapel, which still has a confessional window and stained glass depicting Saint James the Lesser, also features an imposing display case of the opaque colored glass mosaic tiles known as smalti—made by the Venetian company Orsoni, which Trend bought three years ago.
For the chapel floor, Studio Asia principal designer Carla Baratelli selected Chinaca stone from Trend's Le Chianche division—that's a thinner machine-made rendition of the painstakingly hammered cobblestones used in southern Italy. In the main showroom, a floor of dark quartz-and-granite agglomerate is punctuated by lighter inset strips. The path they create leads customers on a journey of bath vignettes, mosaic compositions by contemporary artists.
To Baratelli, the 3,500-square-foot showroom reflects Miami's "freshness and music, the way that light hits the art deco buildings. It's a modern crossroads of cultures and architecture."