Barber Osgerby for Mutina @ Salone Milan 2016

Barber Osgerby for Mutina @ Salone Milan 2016

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mutina showroom at the Salone – featuring Mistral building tiles for the wall

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Mutina has steadily worked with a variety of prominent designers on tile collections, including the Bouroullec brothers, Inga Sempé and Konstantin Grcic.

Last week, London designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby (Barber & Osgerby) launched the new Puzzle and Mistral tile collections designed for the Italian brand Mutina.

Barber and Osgerby previously worked with Mutina on their Mews collection.

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Jay Osger and Edward Barber

Geometrical experimentations meet innovative architectural elements inspired by ceramic tradition and Italian rural homes in the latest Barber Osgerby tile collections for Mutina

Puzzle – a set of patterned geometric tiles, and
Mistral – a range of ceramic blocks that can be stacked to form ventilated sunscreens.

Barber and Osgerby were inspired by the need to cover geometry, colour, patterns and versatility so as  to create their own unique elements due to the adaptable nature of the collections



Puzzle Tiles

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Puzzle comprises a variety of different tile designs intended to be used in combinations.

Semi-circles, triangles and rectangles in three hues cover the square tiles, which are also available as single-coloured pieces.

The Puzzle Collection was created by experimenting with simple geometric forms combined with colour and tone to build a rich and dynamic collection.

Barber and Osgerby made a series of physical models, which enabled them to research compositions and develop the exact layout of potential patterns on the tiles.



As one experiments with the patterns, new combinations emerge creating an ever-expanding collection.

Combining this with plain, solid coloured tiles varies the scale of the contrast and creates moment of calm within the composition that has been created.

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“The Puzzle collection is a game with infinite outcomes. The simple geometric shapes become softer and more fluid as the puzzle grows, allowing patterns to ebb and flow. Objects emerge like maps, islands or clouds, with endless possible permutations, meaning that whenever Puzzle is used it will always be unique.” …….. Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby.


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When exploring the formation of patterns, the two designers noticed that these created images like an abstracted map, which in turn inspired the idea of using European islands as a key reference point for the colours of the collection.

Objects emerge like maps, islands or clouds, with endless possible permutations, meaning that whenever Puzzle is used it will always be unique.”   Barber Osgerby

They noticed that the geometric patterns created images like an abstracted map. This influenced the choice of eight available colours, which are based on and named after European islands.

The neutral colours represent the Northern Isles of Faroe, Gotland, Aland, Anglesey and Skye and the warmer and brighter shades are associated with the Mediterranean Islands of Creta, Milos and Murano.

Each of these families includes: a composition of six graphic patterns in three colours, a set of two symmetrical patterns in two colours called Edge, and three solid-colour variations.





Puzzles tiles Project Development

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justin van nierop with Barber_Osgerby_03



Mistral Blocks


Barber and Osgerby also designed a collection of “three-dimensional tiles” that plays with geometry, light and shade.- named Mistral.

The shapes are based on Mediterranean roof tiles that are sometimes used as partitions.

The Mistral blocks are similarly created for building sculptural louvred walls or sunscreens, with components can be used vertically and horizontally, and angled to control the amount of light and air that it let through.

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The Mistral tile started from a simple detail taken from Italian ancient barns and farm buildings,” the duo said. “Often seen in the countryside are terracotta tiles placed on their ends as a way of providing natural ventilation.”

They are positioned to create a flow of air in and out of the building, responding to wind direction of the area,” they continued. “We noticed how they also become a type of louvre; screening and revealing views, and creating light and shade in ancient solid stone walls.”

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Q & A with Jay Osgerby and Edward Barber


Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby

Puzzle and Mistral collections are definitely revolutionary keys to interior and exterior space concepts. How have you first conceived them ?

Puzzle stems from our continued interest in geometry; we are constantly playing with shapes and form both in three dimensions and on the page. We find that is a powerful tool.

They have quite unusual features. What’s in to spotlight ?

Both collections hinge on the possibility to organize layouts and patterns yourself. Individuality and the ability to be able to personalize your own space is increasingly important and both collections allow the user unlimited configurations.

With Puzzle especially it will be almost impossible to have two surfaces that look the same. You’d have more chance of winning the lottery!

They come in unusual color for Mutina, too. How is color important to you? And how did you choose it for Mistral and Puzzle ?

Colour provokes reaction and changes moods. It can work with or against you. With Puzzle it was a long process, and a difficult one.

Within the range there are 13 colours and in each case three colours are working together. To start with, we thought about the places where the tiles would be used: a restaurant, a bathroom or a terrace.

We selected some subdued combinations and some more punchy ones for different applications. The only problem is you never feel like the job is done because there are always more options you could use.

With Mistral we used more subtle and earthy tones, as they will be predominantly used outside.

What feeling did you want to express ?

The tiles seem to have a joyful and positive effect on people.

You recently released your book: what is the “one by one” concept? Can you explain it taking Puzzle and Mistral as examples ?

One by One was a collection of recent projects in various stages of development, which ranged from small-scale pieces such as Cutlery to an installation at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The concept was that no matter what scale the project, each one is considered “one by one” as their importance is equal.

So on this basis both Mistral and Puzzle were considered in equal measures, it just remains to be seen which one will capture the imagination most.

Does your final product come from a sketch? Do you think Puzzle and Mistral original sketches are reflecting the final product ?

They are both quite similar actually. In one way tiles are quite a simple thing to design compared to a piece of furniture for example, so the original sketch can be very close to the final design.

However the colours have ended up completely different.

If you’d be up to choose a special room or house type in which using Puzzle, what would it be ?

We always image the bright blue ones on a wall in a old house in Greece. Or on the front of a building in Miami!

And for Mistral ?

One day when we will get around to building a swimming pool we will have them all around it!

Describe both collections in 3 words.

Puzzle: bold, colourful, unlimited.

Mistral: architectural, linear, shadow.



About Barber & Osgerby


After graduating from their Masters Degree in Architecture from the Royal College of Art in London, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby founded their design studio, Barber & Osgerby, in 1996.

Their early works were created by bending and forming sheets of material, and were influenced by the white paper they used to make small models while they were still studying architecture.

Their multifaceted approach pushes the boundaries of industrial design, architecture and art.

Specialising in architectural interiors and furniture, their work includes collections for brands such as Knoll (side table, sofa and stool) and Cappellini.

They have also produced limited edition pieces and commissions such as the London 2012 Olympic Torch and the £2 coin designed for the Royal Mint.

The first extensive monograph devoted to them was published by Rizzoli New York in 2011.

They have developed collections for major international companies including Cappellini, B&B Italia, Established & Sons, Flos, Vitra and Knoll and their works are part of permanent collections in museums around the world, such as the V&A and the Design Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Art Institute in Chicago.

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About Mutina

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Mutina is a brand new way of looking at ceramics.

These are no longer tiles, but objects of interior design.

Mutina is an artistic project that unites technology, craft, experimentation and research to push the boundaries of the material itself and create a high-quality product.

Mutina’s designers experiment with the infinite spectrum of white, black and neutral colour. These non-colours become tones to coordinate, combine, contrast or choose for a total look.

Their work is the result of tireless research to test which artisanal or industrial techniques (using the latest technology) are most suitable for producing ceramic floor and wall tiles and providing architecture with a second skin.

Mutina ceramics have become a favourite choice for public and private spaces, from contemporary domestic interiors to designer hotels, fashion showrooms, trendy restaurants, prestigious universities (Luigi Bocconi) and great temples of art (Tate Modern), in Europe and all around the world.

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