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    Ones to Watch: Studio FM Milano

    Studio FM Milano has made its name in Italy and around the world with graphic design and art direction in fields ranging from corporate identity to exhibit and book design. But when the studio, which was founded by Barbara Forni and Sergio Menichelli in 1996 and joined by Cristiano Bottino in 2000, was approached by Italian ceramics manufacturer Refin, they saw a new opportunity to apply their experience to an architectural surface which had in their minds seen a steep and disappointing decline in its decorative potential. 

    “The communication function of decoration has thus moved in step with a monochrome vision of large surfaces, renouncing its own ability to create a dialogue with spaces and people, to the advantage of the furnishing items,” write the designers in the brief of their new ceramic tile collection, Frame.

    With the goal of reinterpreting traditional painted ceramics “without falling into the trap of historical falsity or banal citation,” the studio began to research the decorative crafts of Sassuolo, an industrial center in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. They based the collection’s themes on research of traditional 19th- and 20th-century Majolica and marble-chip tiles, then broadened concepts to include a broader geographic scope; the collection of four patterns represents inspiration ranging from the Bauhaus and Giò Ponti’s work to azulejo, a form of Mediterranean painted and tin-glazed ceramic tile-making, and shibori, a Japanese method of textile dying.

    As a result, the Frame collection’s product families represent unique tactile qualities with four designs: Geometric, Majolica, Carpet, and Weave. Variation in the traditional scale of each pattern and reinterpretations of historic color palettes lent the designers the modernity they desired—one that will inevitably translate into a dynamic change in the role of today’s ceramic surfaces.

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