Old-world construction is like stew—the thicker, the better. Raw wood planks and rough stone bricks convey comfort in their permanence. So rather than feeling like you’re surrounded by something old and decrepit, you feel like you’re surrounded by something that’s only grown more grizzled over time.
German stove tiles are the epitome of this idea. Built thick to absorb and release a stove’s heat, they’re painted and glazed with a fatty, rustic sheen. But Daniel Becker wondered, could you modernize the design while making it more efficient? His solution was a new style of German stove tile—the "Berlin"—textured to increase surface area (and thereby increase ambient heat transfer) while speaking in an entirely new visual language.
"Instead of painting it in colors, I tried to work with the generally larger thickness of a stove tile and search for a unique solution and aesthetics only applicable to stove tiles," Becker tells Co.Design. "The decision for this pattern came out intuitively, starting with a circle as a base . . . [when] I realized the optical illusion of geometric shapes that occurred in different lighting situations and refined it."
Eventually, Becker created a tile that plays with light and shadow in such a way that you can’t quite pin down its texture. Is each piece made of stacks or holes? It’s hard to tell. So as part of a larger design, intermixed with untextured tiles, you can become lost in Escherian delight. Only close inspection reveals the secret: a relatively simple dimpled gradient that’s no more expensive to produce than traditional German stove tiles.
[Hat tip: dezeen]