Over the last year, terrazzo has boomed in popularity, dominating our feeds from Pinterest to Houzz, and covering surfaces from flooring to lampshades. Intriguingly, the material has been around for thousands of years, according to archeologists, originating in the Neolithic period, and popping up in Ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome! The trend appeared again in the 18th century in the Italian province of Fruili, where the artistic sensibility of the era was ruled by the mosaic. The artists of Fruili were referred to as the terrazieri, translating to ‘those who work with terrazzo’, designating the namesake for the design. In Italy, this material was used in Venetian buildings and structures as flooring. Terrazzo was a convenient way of reusing discarded shards of marble chippings; this trend’s resurgence in its original form (flooring, countertops) can be partially attributed to its sustainability. As individuals awaken to their ethical responsibility in taking care of our planet, a turn toward environmentally friendly practices makes sense.
The original manifestation of the trend as flooring is produced by setting fragments into cement, which is then sanded down and polished for a smooth surface. The result is a stunning array of color, which is perhaps why it saw its first explosion into the mainstream in the psychedelic decade of the 70s. The twenty-first century rendering of the trend has remastered and perfected the material, and also produced wallpaper and other household surfaces with prints inspired by the visual feast of colour.
While the terrazzo trend in its original form typically involves a project of large scale, this stunning design is cropping up on all sorts of surfaces: coffee mugs, dinnerware, textiles, rugs, vases, and other décor items, making it easy for everyone to incorporate this fun and playful design into their homes. Spring seems to be the ideal season to be sporting Terrazzo, with its vibrant collage of colour popping against a crisp white background in random constellations which appear in perfect disarray. This is a fun print that can be exploited in virtually all spaces in need of a little energy boost, a welcomed break from the recent dominance of neutrals in the majority of interior palettes as of late.
Beyond providing a dazzling and sophisticated spectacle, the Terrazzo trend is also incredibly versatile. Some prints are fairly-muted, making them the perfect companion to more vibrant accessories or backdrops; other manifestations of the trend pack significant punch, making it the perfect stand-out piece in a relatively neutral palette. The scale of the speckled colors makes it easy to match or pair with other prints, colors, and textiles. As a design made beautiful precisely because of its imperfection and asymmetry, it teaches a valuable lesson about the art of learning to appreciate the beauty in a little bit of disorder.