The Seattle Design Center
(Apple Water Photography)
Located about ten minutes from downtown Seattle in Washington State, the Design Center is home to 65 showrooms, a number of offices and a restaurant. The centre showcases products by 1,500 manufacturers from all over the world in the various sectors of design, furnishing, textiles, lighting, surfaces, finishings, decoration, antiques and art. Aimed principally at architects, interior designers and investors seeking bespoke creative solutions, the centre also offers consulting services for end users, who can choose from a wide selection of interior designers capable of meeting all their design needs. Given the centre’s size and the technical and artistic quality of its spaces, it is used to host exhibitions, installations and conferences on art, craft and design. It is also the perfect venue for meetings and debates in the lively and culturally vibrant city of Seattle.
The Design Center consists of a large number of showrooms on two levels facing onto a large covered central square, illuminated during the daytime by natural light that enters via the saw-tooth roof with large vertical windows. This creates the sensation of being outdoors in spite of actually being in a closed space. In terms of its typology, colours and materials, the square is reminiscent of an Italian piazza complete with shops, roads and covered pedestrian walkways. The ground floor showrooms are housed under large arches, set back with respect to the upper level so as to create an arcade area, while the stores on the upper floor overlook the square via wide galleries. As a tribute to Italy, Italian squares and the materials used to build them over the centuries, the designers chose a floor covering material in a colour and texture reminiscent of handmade terracotta, a rough stone with irregular surfaces capable of capturing light in the most varied and interesting way. To achieve this natural aesthetic within a strongly architectural context, the designer chose the Extrema full-body porcelain tile collection from Atlas Concorde in a warm beige colour. The variety of available sizes made it possible to create sophisticated surfaces that are a pleasure to walk over, laid out in patterns that vary according to position, use and context. The square modules are set out in a diagonal pattern in the covered square with the aim of further accentuating the sense of space, whereas in the arcade areas the square tiles are arranged perpendicular to the glazed surfaces of the windows. In front of the showrooms, a line of Mosaico Rete tiles in the colour Surfing running between the wood columns traces out an ornamental motif in the same colour as the rest of the floor. The Metal Satin Listello also creates a thin, elegant line of demarcation between the various textures.