Dezeen Magazine

Italian designers continue marble tile recycling project with Little Gerla vases

A pair of Italian designers has extended their line of products made from rejected marble with a collection of four vases, all made from a single tile without producing any waste (+ slideshow).


Driven by the statistic that only 30 per cent of marble quarried ends up in finished products, Paolo Ulian and Moreno Ratti have created the collection of Little Gerla vases from discarded Marmette slabs – marble wall and flooring tiles pre-cut to 40 by 40 by 3 centimetres.


Using a water jet, each tile is cut into four pieces of 20 by 20 by 3 centimetres, and then cut into concentric rings. These rings are stacked, rotated and glued together to create the unusual shape of the vases.


According to the designers, the tiles they are using for this project are among huge numbers discarded every year because of prominent veins, inconsistent colours or minor damage.


"Waste is always the basis of our research, because we would like to live in a world without waste," Ratti told Dezeen. "We were shocked when we discovered that 70 per cent of marble is wasted, so we set about designing something that could be made from the marble tiles found in dusty warehouses of our craft companies. We set ourselves the challenge of only using a water jet machine to cut and finding a way to simply assemble the pieces without creating any waste."


The designers have no fixed idea of the final form when they start experimenting with tiles.

"These vases were born out of a study into the reuse of marble tiles," said Ratti. "We started with a 2D concept – the tile – and used that to make a 3D concept – the vase. For us the form of vase is the finishing point, not the starting point. This type of study results in a new type of design."


The resulting vases are unexpectedly lightweight for something made from marble and their surfaces bear the characteristic markings of the water jet.


Ulian and Ratti first created a collection from the Marmette slabs last year, which featured a larger version of the stacked vases. Their other previous designs include lamps, fruit bowls and clocks, each made from single tiles.