Launched in early April, Diespeker’s ‘lockdown’ competition proved popular with budding designers in the UK and overseas who jumped at the chance to come up with a bespoke terrazzo to be used for a side table. Entries used a variety of imaginative objects, from pencil shavings to shells and abalone.
Diespeker MD, John Krause judged the entries along with Emily Murray from The Pink House who has used the company’s bespoke terrazzo in a renovation project for her Lewisham home.
John said: “We were knocked out by the diversity and creativity of the designs – it was a really tough call to make. We had to weigh up the creative with the practicalities of actually making the terrazzo, and there was one design that stood out to both myself and Emily.”
The winning design was conceived by Ali Blake, an architect from London. He explained the inspiration behind it:
“Throughout lockdown my daily exercise has been cycling around London, often passing the old Diespeker factory in Angel.
“When I saw the competition, I thought how great it was to have a company that still manufactures in London, over a century after it was founded. In coming up with my entry I thought of ways that this history of place could be represented in the entry. On one ride I was stopped overlooking the river to the City of London and looked down at the foreshore – seeing the natural record of the city it presents and how it almost resembles a terrazzo mix in its found state. I’m looking forward to mud larking to find amazing fragments that will work well together.”
The concept struck a real chord with the judges; for guest judge Emily, the narrative was key. “Not only does it look lovely, but the idea of creating a living record from the River Thames is very romantic,” she says. “A table that would tell a story of time and place.”
Once lockdown measures ease, Ali will be invited to bring the fragments he collects to Diespeker and to see the process involved in making bespoke terrazzo. The design will then be recreated as closely as possible. Although the prize was a side table using the terrazzo, Ali has his own thoughts on what he would like to do. “I love furniture design and I’m hoping to include the terrazzo as the centre of my kitchen table. I already had a design that needed a centrepiece – and this terrazzo piece will make it very special indeed.”
Diespeker’s John Krause was so impressed with all the entries that he decided to pick three runners up, too. “When it comes to bespoke terrazzo, the team has tackled many tricky and intricate specifications with great success. We just couldn’t resist the challenge presented by some of the entries.”
Appropriately, John is calling this initiative ‘Challenge Diespeker’. The bespoke team will be attempting to recreate the designs sent in by Luca Cocconi, whose eye-catching creative incorporates a brass zip; Robert Ware with a terrazzo including brown glass from beer bottles, inspired, he explains, by the increase in SE1 beer sales from local breweries with more people are drinking at home at the moment; and finally, Valentina Brughera who used different buttons and pieces of wood. John says he has always wanted to try making terrazzo incorporating wood.
John is keen to thank everyone who took part with such enthusiasm. “We’re planning on sending a little something out to all those who entered to acknowledge all the hard work that went into the designs.”