Kate Walker fell in love with terrazzo the moment she laid eyes on it, when she first started working in the world of design. At that stage it was mostly used as a flooring material. “Terrazzo has really developed in terms of the ways in which it can be incorporated into a home. Now that it is available in tiles we can specify it for a variety of applications. I love that you can be innovative and imaginative with it, and create your own magic by laying it in a variety of ways,” says Kate.
When it comes to terrazzo, there is no-one more passionate than Michael Karakolis of Fibonacci Stone. Having spent many years of his early career as an architectural draftsperson, Michael worked on projects all over Melbourne and has a deep understanding of structure, building and design. However gradually his desire to be a creative entrepreneur overtook his interest in technical drawing, and his love for terrazzo lead him to creating Fibonacci Stone in 2004.
Explains Michael, “The possibilities of terrazzo are endless. However whilst basic designs were used in large commercial projects like airports and shopping centres, I found that beautiful terrazzo wasn’t readily available for residential projects. I tasked myself with enhancing the design of this commercial material and taking it to another level so that it was considered on a wider scale for high end residential installations.”
Whilst Michael originally thought he had come up with a unique concept, he soon discovered that many before him had in fact tried to expand the use of terrazzo. However they lacked the resilience, persistence and passion to pursue the ensuing challenges.
“It has been quite the journey, and very taxing on my stress levels,” says Michael. ” Over the years since launching Fibonacci we have resolved so many seemingly insurmountable problems in terms of quality, consistency and availability. Having a beautifully designed product that is ready for designers to install has been the key to our success and longevity. The honesty of terrazzo has enabled us to take its design to new heights without losing its innate appeal. The ways in which it is being used now are so innovative and personal – a far cry from the basic and rudimentary ways in which terrazzo has been used in the past.”
A major hurdle for Michael was finding a way to encourage manufacturers to see terrazzo in the way he sees it. Overcoming the desire for volume rather than quality design was difficult at first. Michael’s vision was to make terrazzo both superior in quality, and fully available – two simple concepts that were at polar opposites of possibilities.
“Turning a made-to-order product into an inventory / no-lead-time product was the challenge,” Michael explains. “All too often designers were presented with samples that were then approved for a project by the client, only to find that when the stock arrived it was different to what had been specified. This in turn became a real barrier for designers who were very specific about the colour and tone required to execute a design vision. I wanted to rule out any margin for error and any possibility of delivering anything other than exactly what was ordered.”
Fibonacci Stone now has several terrazzo manufacturing partners in Europe with the capabilities to meet Fibonacci’s quality control standards. Michael further controls the supply chain by sourcing the very best raw materials from all over the world and sending these to the manufacturer.
Says Michael, “There is more to providing the very best product than just country of origin. We design the product ourselves and oversee the quality control throughout the process, above and beyond industry standard. As a result we are able to offer our exclusive range of terrazzo as a ready-made product.”
Terrazzo has been part of an emerging trend in Australia for several years now, but rather than just regurgitating old designs Fibonacci Stone is focused on introducing new, long standing designs that will stand the test of time rather than being just a trend. It’s the subtle elements that make a difference and turn terrazzo from a retro project to a forward-thinking design solution.
Michael has worked on bespoke terrazzo for some major clients, including creating a custom design terrazzo for The Australian Ballet. “It was a beautiful project to work on,” says Michael, “because it was a real meeting of the minds. It evolved naturally into a collaboration on a terrazzo that has the palest tones of flesh, blush and salmon inspired by the beauty of a ballerina’s steps en point. Pavlova is now part of our range. We respond to the market. If we find that our range doesn’t cover a brief that a designer is trying to achieve, we explore it, and natural collaborations emerge.”
Michael sees terrazzo working really effectively in bathrooms and for feature floors, and as accents for creating character within conservative guidelines. “I really enjoyed working with Kate on her latest project, Biscayne. She picked out two colours that you wouldn’t naturally think would work well together – Fatima’s Reflection and Ghosted. They are very sophisticated colours, and the way in which she has interpreted and reimagined them for Biscayne is extraordinary.”
“I had observed Kate Walker from afar for some years. In this industry you pay attention to designers who push the boundary. There are certain trailblazers in Australian design and Kate is certainly one of them. Her design savviness and desire to create something unique and distinctive was the foundation of our relationship. Kate and her KWD team have done an incredible job of capturing the market of those who want a tailored and personalised service. A far cry from large design houses where clients are a commodity, Kate has a unique skill set with an offering that combines creativity and procurement and I appreciate how she makes each of her projects so individual.”
Michael believes that supplying terrazzo is only one part of the process of a successful terrazzo installation. When designers take what Fibonacci Stone offers and creates something truly unique, the end result so exciting. The combination can create an artwork, a masterpiece.
“Kate understands materials and in turn can get more creative and achieve more than most. She takes the time to explore the different layers of colour and texture, picks up on the possibilities immediately and is clear of the direction she wants to take. When someone like Kate selects one of our products and interprets the way she features and lays it in such an innovative way, it is tremendously rewarding.”
Explains Kate, “Working with Fibonacci is such a joy because of Michael’s palpable passion for terrazzo. The care, detail and quality control he ensures across every piece makes him so reliable, which is vital for the high end properties we specify his product for. Terrazzo works beautifully for a wide variety of projects. Being such a tactile material it feels so beautiful to walk on in bare feet, and it can be incorporated into any aesthetic really if it is applied in the right format. The way in which we have used Fibonacci’s terrazzo in Biscayne is simply stunning.”
If you want to know more about how you can incorporate the most stunning terrazzo into your home, talk to the KWD design team on (613) 5974 1800.