An interior-designer friend once told me to think of the floor in your home like you do your shoes: It should pull a look together. Terrazzo, in that case, would be like your flashiest pair of Giuseppe Zanottis. This high-end flooring is becoming one of the biggest design trends of 2018—Pinterest saves of terrazzo pix are up 316 percent.
So what is it exactly? Terrazzo is made of tiny pieces of marble, quartz or granite set in concrete and smoothed into a flat surface. It dates back to 16th-century Italy, when enterprising Venetians recycled chunks of leftover marble into their floors. More recently, the look was embraced by the Memphis design movement of the 1980s. But most of us will likely associate it with high school—you know, the salt-and-pepper industrial flooring you’d pretend to be fixated on when your crush caught you staring.
Thanks to advances in design tech, terrazzo has shed that utilitarian drabness. Companies are rolling out this durable speckled flooring in a new high-style palette that would look at home on the spring/summer runways of Akris, Emporio Armani and Temperley London. Carolina Herrera even debuted a terrazzo-inspired print in her Palm Beach meets Art Basel spring/summer 2018 collection.
“We are starting to see a renaissance of terrazzo as people shift toward a more luxury finish that’s going to last for decades or centuries,” says Edmonton-based flooring expert Ryan Spotowski, who moonlights as a furniture designer and created a terrazzo-inspired table out of recycled concrete as an ode to the material. Other designers are also looking beyond flooring. Australian company Zakkia makes very-Instagram-friendly handcrafted terrazzo accessories like plant pots and doorknobs. And London-based Dzek’s earth-tone terrazzo can be adapted for everything from backsplashes to bathtubs.
Plants dressed in terrazzo ?⠀ ⠀ ? by @raefallon ⠀ regram from @stackwood_ featuring out Terrazzo Pot in Snow.⠀ ⠀ #zakkia #zakkiahomewares #handmade #homewares #styling #decor #scandi #scandinavian #design #interior #minimal #minimalist #terrazzo #plant #indoorplant #plantsofinstagram #pot #monochrome #greenery
Of course, a bathtub is a bit of a commitment, so if you just want to flirt with the trend, look for terrazzo-like patterns, which are being incorporated into pillows, wallpaper and rugs. Talk about a bright idea.
This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's bi-weekly newsletter