GRT Architects, a Brooklyn-based firm founded by Rustam-Marc Mehta and Tal Schori, has developed a classically inspired cladding template dubbed “Flutes and Reeds.”
The off-the-shelf product is designed as a modular system of triangular concrete tiles that are arranged in varying increments and grid formats—imagine Gio Ponti’s midcentury Blu Ponti ceramic tiles with protruding elements. If the tiles are set in a conventional manner, they resemble the relative formality of Greco-Roman column detailing over an expansive triangular matrix.
According to GRT Architects, “Greek columns can be thought of as modules or tiles in a way. Their proportions have fixed rules; there are options for surface embellishments, base and top details. From that small set of instructions comes literally centuries of architecture—from the most austere to the playful acts of virtuosity.” In effect, this straightforward classical detailing can serve as plug-and-play components for contemporary design.
The tiles, as a result of their standardized size, can be rotated and arranged to create unique patterns or erratic islands across surfaces. In total, GRT Architects has designed more than two dozen tile variations for four standard patterns: Single Flute, Triple Flute, Single Reed, and Double Reed.
From the spring of 2018, GRT Architects has collaborated with Kaza Concrete—a Hungarian concrete manufacturer specializing in bespoke accent walls—to debut the product at both the Clerkenwell and Milan Design weeks. Kaza uses a mixture consisting of fiber-reinforced concrete, marble powder, and a broad range of powdered pigments. The mixture is subsequently poured into a cast to imprint detailing and harden.
In both circumstances, Kaza Concrete assembled, designed, and fabricated the installations to highlight the possible layouts of GRT’s panels as well as the materiality of the manufacturer’s polished concrete. Notably, Kaza Concrete’s installation for the 2018 Milan Design Week was fashioned to resemble the base of a monumental column, laid out with a wildly irregular and fractured surface treatment.
Flutes and Reeds has been on the market since June of 2018, and it is incorporated into GRT Architects’ design of a family home and studio in Duchess County and the renovation of a rectory in New York’s Harlem neighborhood.