Brazilian designer Renata Rubim has a way with words. “If everything has a surface and color,” she says, “then all we have to do is improve the treatment and to mould our look upon them.” Though something about the quote has a biblical tinge that’s oddly reminiscent of Samuel L. Jackson’s execution speech from Pulp Fiction, it exudes a refreshing no-nonsense kind of insight. “Yes, Ms. Rubim,” I’m tempted to respond, “everything does have a surface… and you’ve certainly done your part to beautify and functionalize them.”

Permeare. Designed by Renata Rubim.

As, for instance, with her Permeare line of cement tiles for manufacturer Solarium, a company with a good ten years under the belt of “offering ecologically friendly cast stone floorings and pavers with excellent thermal insulation properties.”


Solarium prides itself on its environmental outlook. From incorporating natural light into its production facilities; to using rainwater and solar energy to help power manufacturing; to recycling all cast-off paper, plastic, iron, and cardboard, the company has a broad millennial outlook that has put them on the international radar. Permeare puts one more notch in their ledger of ecological credentials. Eschewing the usual square or rectangular shape, Rubim’s tile is a quadrilateral formed of four L-shapes placed bottom to top. Or maybe a sculpture metaphor works better here–each tile resembling a square with a thin rectangle chiseled out of it. In finished layouts, Permeare has a puzzle-piece aesthetic likening it to the recent A Piece of Carpet, though the latter has a classical aspect that Permeare eschews in favor of a labyrinthine look–putting me in mind of the mind puzzles of M.C. Escher.

But I’ve saved the best for last. Permeare’s preference for open joints is a double boon for the ecologically-minded. Not only does it promote wise resource use by requiring substantially less material per square foot of coverage, it also encourages water to get off its surface and into the earth where it belongs. Thus promoting the beauteous profusion of wildflowers and native grasses that’s sure to sprout from Permeare’s inviting niches.

Via Design Milk

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