Floor designer

Mosaics take advantage of the Renaissance during the pandemic-driven home design boom – WWD

In the post-pandemic world, where millions of former office workers are now working from home, beige is the enemy of joy.

The reality of working from home has reoriented people around their homes (requiring home offices, home gyms) and prompted owners to re-evaluate design choices – often made by a faceless developer or former owner. A shower wall or kitchen backsplash takes on more significance when you look at it all day, every day. And mosaic – an ancient art form popularized during the Roman Empire – is enjoying something of a renaissance amid the pandemic-induced boom in home design.

Before the Great Lockdown, says Cean Irminger, mosaic artist and creative director of Virginia-based mosaic company New Ravenna, resale potential was a priority when customers chose mosaic tiles.

“People were going for beiges and neutrals. They didn’t want anything with too much personality because they thought, I’m going to sell this house in a few years, I should be doing something that will appeal to the masses and be happy with it.

Not anymore.

“Everyone realizes that they are going to be at home 365 days a year. They want it to be something that brings them joy,” she adds. “They are no longer designing for an unknown future. “

Ravenna’s new creative director, Cean Irminger.
Tatum Ford/Courtesy

Even before the pandemic, the minimalist aesthetic of the 2000s – which produced so many white marble kitchens – was beginning to give way to color and creativity. “All of the 2000s it was white and gray, white and gray, maybe a little beige. But now it’s color, it’s warm tones, it’s things that grab attention and that have a lot of personality,” says Irminger. “People aren’t afraid of color anymore.”

New Ravenna stocks over 1,000 bespoke stone and glass mosaics. The recently released Biome collection includes nature inspired designs such as Gingko, Reptile, Sea Foam, Sassafras and Geode. Each pattern is available in several colors. All are in hand-cut stone; a blue geode ($715 per square foot) is made of polished Thassos, polished indigo, orchid, cornflower, hydrangea, aloe, lotus, periwinkle, celestial, carrara, macauba blue and aurum.

“We think of Geode as a painting,” says Irminger. “There is no repeating pattern. Every time someone orders the Geode, we’ll give them their own one-of-a-kind piece of art to fit their space.

While the pandemic has inspired a reassessment of our indoor spaces, for Irminger, more time at home has also enlivened his professional life. When the world went into lockdown in the spring of 2020, she found herself in the role of teacher and playmate to her young daughters, then aged 7 and 9. Fortunately, they live on a 100-acre farm in Exmore, a small agrarian community in eastern Virginia. Coastal peninsula where New Ravenna is headquartered. The outdoors has become their classroom; there were “science walks” in the woods and plenty of room for messy crafts like tie-dye. These experiences became the inspiration for Irminger’s new mosaic collection called Heyday. To Dye For evokes the burst of color and pattern of a tie-dye shirt. There’s also Fire Fly and Phase to Phase, a geometric mosaic that mimics the phases of the moon.

Geode, a hand-cut stone mosaic, presented in Polished Thassos, Polished Indigo, Orchid, Cornflower, Hydrangea, Aloe, Lotus, Periwinkle, Celestial, Carrara, Blue Macauba and Aurum, is part of the Biome collection for New Ravenna.

Geode, a hand-cut stone mosaic from New Ravenna, is among bespoke designs offered by the Virginia-based company.

Irminger says, “For me it was just a question of how to translate that inspiration in a way that could be a bit more sophisticated and less on the nose; to create something that can still enliven someone’s living space with a jolt of childhood joy.

New Ravenna ships approximately 16,000 square feet of mosaics each month and has seen sales of its custom mosaics increase 20% over the past three years. (Bespoke mosaics make up 70% of orders; New Ravenna also offers a ready-to-ship line.) designer Sasha Bikoff and architect and designer Caroline Beaupère, whose association with New Ravenna began there several years when she worked with the company to create custom glass mosaics for her clients, including a winding cherry blossom vine in the master bathroom of a Jersey City residence and a motif of bird and vine for a kitchen backsplash in a small Kips Bay apartment.

“It’s the silver lining of the pandemic – people are spending a lot of time in their homes and they want their home to really reflect them, instead of just living in a space and maybe one day selling it,” says Beaupère, who is working on her second collection for New Ravenna.

Beaupère prefers to design with glass for its endless color possibilities, from subtle pastels to vivid jewel tones that have become more popular and are not always achievable with natural stone. (Basalt, a common volcanic rock, can be glazed for brilliant tones.)

Unlike wallpaper or paint or a stock piece of furniture, mosaics are customizable and durable.

“It’s something customers love,” says Beaupère. “A mosaic can bring life and energy to a space, it’s unique and something no one else in the world has.”

New Ravenna saw a spike in bespoke customization requests in the pandemic era; from incorporating family names into a floor medallion to incorporating a client’s local flora and fauna into one of the company’s chinoiserie-esque designs. Bird patterns are particularly popular right now and customers are asking for very bold color changes for existing patterns.

But staggered requests are not uncommon either. Irminger designed several original custom mosaics, including a 5-foot-tall rabbit for the bottom of a swimming pool, a portrait of a cat shaved to look like a lion, and a silhouette portrait of a man and a woman. woman wearing only cowboy hats. “It’s the biggest outdoor shower installation ever,” she says.

And truly one of a kind.