The Throwback Design Trend We’re Obsessed With Right Now
Lately, terrazzo has been popping up everywhere. Speckled surfaces cover buzzy restaurants, fashion flagships, modern homes and textiles. But despite being one of today’s top trends, for design buffs, it’s a throwback, too. Dating back to the Neolithic era, terrazzo’s had a “moment” many times before (the 18th century, 1920s, 1950s, 1970s…).
Click through to learn more about this perennial favorite. Plus, discover some fun finds to shop now!
While terrazzo-like floors existed in ancient Rome, Greece and even Stone Age dwellings, the color-smattered material we love now can be credited to the Venetians.
Pavimento alla Veneziana was born in the 15th century and is a fascinating example of upcycling. Venice’s makers made an art of inlaying chips of stone and glass in floors, repurposing offcuts from their studios. Now, terrazzo can be found throughout Italy in homes and historic sites, such as Venice’s Palazzo Ducale.
Terrazzo travelled to North America in the 18th century, and soared in popularity during the Beaux-Arts period and 1920s (the image above shows its shift from church-floor staple to Art Deco detail).
And that wasn’t terrazzo’s only revival. Modernist architects embraced the material in the 1950s, and homeowners installed colorful versions in the ’70s. By the end of the 20th century, durable terrazzo had been installed in scores of public buildings.
Today, terrazzo is virtually everywhere. St. Peter’s Basilica, the Rockefeller Center, Hoover Dam, the Hollywood Walk of Fame… and, in recent years, the world’s trendiest restaurants and cafés.
Bar Luce in Milan — designed by famed director Wes Anderson for Fondazione Prada in 2015 — is a standout. Here, evenly scattered chips pepper floors for a look that’s at once retro and fashion-forward.
Luxury fashion houses were also among the first to repurpose terrazzo in inspiring ways. Valentino’s New York City flagship store — built by renowned firm David Chipperfield Architects in 2014 — boasts walls and floors clad in striking grey- and white-flecked terrazzo.
As the trend gained steam, editors and bloggers started reporting on all the terrazzo, and terrazzo-inspired, surfaces they saw at design and trade shows. The Allegro tile pattern from Lithos Design — with its quirky marble shapes and vibrant palette — is one example of a modern spin on terrazzo.
Now, design firms large and small have fully embraced the material, including Melbourne-based Sans-Arc Studio. The firm’s design for Smallfry — a seafood bar in Adelaide, Australia — features expanses of cool blue terrazzo, which inject a touch of pattern into the hip space.
This modernist home in Belgium — renovated by Made Architects and MJVH Architects — contains another standout application. Here, black-, grey- and rose-speckled terrazzo floors bring energy, and bit of fun, to the circa-1935 structure.
Designed by Dzek and Play Associates, this London apartment kitchen sings thanks to a thick, terrazzo-style worktop and curb backsplash. Deep emerald cabinetry and touches of gold on the fixtures, trim and switch plates tie it all together.
Chez Marie Sixtine — a private retail space tucked above Paris’s chic Marie Sixtine boutique — shows the subtler side of terrazzo. A statement wall and section of floor is clad in finely flecked stone for a unique, yet understated aesthetic.
Want to bring home a piece of the trend — without taking on a major reno? There’s plenty of terrazzo-inspired furnishings, textiles and accessories in stores now.
Take a look and you’re sure to come across pieces inspired by the work of Memphis group–member and Japanese design icon Shiro Kuramata. His Kyoto table (an investment piece for serious collectors) is a stunning example of hand-laid terrazzo.
Anthropologie’s bleached ash Perrie bar cabinet — with its large terrazzo handles and retro lines — is one contemporary piece that channels the Memphis look.
To bring a healthy dose of the on-trend pattern into a room, hunt down a wallpaper with a color-flecked design. This pattern from Scandinavian brand Ferm Living is one fresh option.
Accented with shards of metallic color, Poketo’s terrazzo-inspired notebooks will invigorate any staid office setup — and are perfect for those who just want to dip their toes in the trend.
This neutral serving board from Structube offers another easy way to layer terrazzo into a room. Set it out on a solid countertop or hang it on the wall for a hit of low-commitment pattern.
Perfect for kids’ spaces and rec rooms, these playful cotton rugs from Lorena Canals put a softer spin on the terrazzo trend. (Bonus: they’re machine-washable!)