This summer, WDA’s Michelle Liu joined a group of architects and designers on a week-long trip to Spain. The tour was hosted by Porcelanosa, a family-owned Spanish company that, in the forty years since its founding in 1973, has grown into an international brand that designs, manufactures, and distributes 8 distinct company lines of building products. Before her visit, Michelle was familiar with Porcelanosa’s ceramic and clay tiles, and its commitment to quality, design, and sustainable manufacturing practices. And during the whirlwind week visiting Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid, she was struck by how essential art and design are to Porcelanosa’s products.
The tour began at Porcelanosa’s original and main manufacturing facility in Villarreal. Michelle was fascinated by this state-of-the art building complex, which is located in an agricultural area and built over a reservoir of porcelain slurry used to pour tiles. Housing high-tech manufacturing equipment that helps control emissions, the facility is so large that employees travel by bike across the clean concrete floors to get from one end to the other. Computerized vehicles also drive completed tiles across the buildings to a state-of-the-art storage and distribution area. In Michelle’s eyes, “the whole facility functions as a finely-tuned machine.”
After showing how its products are made, Porcelanosa’s emphasis on seamless design and superior functionality was further highlighted on the next stops of the tour. The Gamadecor showroom, for example, featured kitchen systems that are the end-product of years of research and development. These systems integrate a range of Porcelonosa’s plumbing fixtures, facades, natural stone and a new composite acrylic surface, Krion, into visually appealing and functionally flawless units.
Likewise, the L’Antic Colonial showroom for mosaic and natural stone and wood products features entire rooms designed by architects that highlight the potential for these products to compose artful spaces. Michelle was particularly struck by “The Natural Bath” by Francesc Rife Studio.
Other destinations on the tour reinforced the importance of architectural design to Porcelanosa: the clean lines and grids of elegant tile of Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion, the repeated organic motifs inside Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, the graceful arches floating above the water of Calatrava’s Planetarium in Valencia. Porcelanosa’s products reflect the crisp, timeless, and memorable qualities of these important architectural works, and provide a range of solutions for great architecture that has yet to be designed.