Case Study: Designer Strikes Gold with Metallic Tiles
January 1, 2007
These days, it’s hard to find anybody in the design world that hasn’t heard of - or worked with - Phillipe Starck. The Paris-based master of interior design has revolutionized the industry with his ultra-modern, high-design creations that have a way of turning even the smallest details into part of a flowing design concept, changing the way the industry looks at space.
That’s why Starck and his architectural firm, YOO USA, were chosen by Boymelgreen Developers to transform the Landmark Equitable Trust Building, the former headquarters for J.P. Morgan and Co. on the corner of Broad and Wall Street in the heart of New York City, into luxury residential condominiums.
This 40-story building, owned by Boymelgreen, will soon consist of 382 high-end apartments located on the 7th through 40th floors, totaling almost 15,000 square feet.
Aside from designing and creating these high-end apartment dwellings, Starck had a vision for a particular room by the elevator in the main lobby. The only problem was he just didn’t have the right tile – and, it didn’t exist. Starck’s vision was to create an all-gold room that engaged the senses into an “ethereal cloud of light.”
“We wanted to create something extraordinary, timeless, clever, uplifting and fun,” said Mark Davison, head of design at YOO USA.
To accomplish this, Starck and YOO USA worked closely with Steuler-Fliesen, a Germany-based manufacturer of ceramic tile that believes in expressing the quality of life through exclusive design concepts and high-quality tiles. YOO USA and Starck defined the size, texture and materials they wanted, and Steuler Design developed this exclusive gold tile to match their needs.
“The goal was to create an all gold room,” Davison said, “walls, ceiling, furniture and fittings. It’s a bold statement without compromise. The type of thing that (YOO USA) does well. We have used metallic tile on other projects, but this time we have found a very interesting one.”
In order to set and grout this exotic mesh-mounted gold tile, YOO USA specified LATICRETE International. Headquartered in Bethany, Connecticut, LATICRETE has a 50 year track record in the creation of innovative tile and stone installation systems.
“Our people actually created the gold tile for this installation at the request of team YOO,” said Paul Heldens, Steuler-Fliesen’s CEO. “Real gold is included in the makeup of each tile. This is very special material. We needed the best tile installation system. That’s why we are so pleased with the decision to use the LATICRETE System.”
This high-visibility project took months of planning and the dutiful collaboration of all parties involved. LATICRETE had a representative on-site to meet with Fred Pannhurst of Universal Tile and Stone, who was chosen for the gold room installation.
“YOO USA specified LATICRETE,” Pannhurst said. “The reason they were chosen was quality. LATICRETE makes great products.”
The challenge for Universal Tile and Stone’s three-member crew was outfitting a 1,500-square-foot room without cutting any tiles in the process.
“In a square room,” Pannhurst said, “with the walls, the ceilings and the floor all being tiled, the lines had to be spaced accordingly. We had to adjust the size of the grout joints across the room to make it flow. There are grout joints measuring from 1/16” to 1/8” right next to each other. In order to keep the lines horizontal and vertical, we needed a little play.”
To set the tile on the ceiling and walls, Pannhurst and his crew at Universal used LATICRETE’s 255 MultiMax Thin-Set Mortar, which provides unmatched non-sag performance and adjustability on walls. Reinforced with Kevlar® for added strength, this 3-in-1 lightweight mortar with incredible consistency for easy troweling meant that Universal only had to carry one product onto the jobsite to set the tile.
On the floor, a dri-pack was used to level a 1-inch grade, then troweled with more of LATICRETE’s 255 MultiMax Thin-Set Mortar.
For the final step of grouting, Universal used LATICRETE SpectraLOCK™ PRO Grout; globally proven and professional endorsed, this new grout meets ANSI A118.3 physical performance requirements, and offers the durability and stain resistance of an epoxy grout with extraordinary ease of use. Equally as important, SpectraLOCK PRO Grout’s color uniformity added that little extra “pop” to the all-gold room.
“At Steuler,” said Heldens, “we tested many installation systems. For the Starck product, we ended up recommending the LATICRETE materials. They were very well suited to be used on the gold mosaic tiles. The SpectraLOCK PRO Grout did not scratch the surface of the gold tile, and that’s when we knew LATICRETE was the right choice.”
From the mind of Phillipe Starck, the creativity of Steuler-Fliesen, the skillful work of Universal Tile and some of the finest setting products in the world from LATICRETE, the “Gold Room” at 15 Broad Street stands as a testament to how far the art of interior design can be pushed.