Every year Ceramics of Italy honors North American based architects and interior designers for their Italian ceramic tile use in any project placed anywhere in the world. This year is its 19th year and any project in the past 5 years are eligible for submission. Deadline is right around the corner: February 17th 2012. It is a simple and free online submission. The main requirement CoI asks for is that the featured project utilizes majority, if not all, Italian ceramic or porcelain tile. The Italian Trade Commission and Confindustria Ceramica, the Association of Italian Ceramics, aim to promote the Italian ceramic industry to foreign trade.
The 2011 winner of the CoI Residential category was California based Belzberg Architects with their dynamic, yet serene Kona Residence in Kona, Hawaii. They chose to play with the landscape and accent two, what they call, “pods;” one on the eastern side and one on the western side united by an outside gallery passageway. Each pod highlights the different views on the property: east volcanic mountain range and west ocean skyline.
A theme that runs through the residence is the local culture. The entrance is inspired by the local basket weaving art and acts as the ceremonial gift upon arriving the composed house. Throughout the house, the ceilings and dividers feature digitally sculpted wood mixing traditional Hawaiian customs with a contemporary response. Artaic admires this fusion of old conventions and contemporary techniques. The large Italian tile are crisp and calming with the wood. The bathroom presents a splash of Hawaiian color to the house with mosaic walls of warm flowers. Not only is the tile and overall house elegantly beautiful, but also sustainable in which is also a considered factor of the Ceramics of Italy Competition. The darker tiles in the pool help with warming the pool though solar radiation. Belzberg applied photovoltaic panels on the roof for balanced energy use and a rain water collecting system that dispenses the water to three drywells that filtrate aquifers on the estate. The exterior also uses recycled teak timber, train tracks and local materials like lava rock.
In other CoI catagories, the winner for Commercial division was RMW Architecture & Interiors‘s Brocade Communications in San Jose, CA, and the winner for Institutional division was SNC Lavalin‘s Canada Line Rapid Transit in Vancouver, BC.