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Q&A with Diespeker MD John Krause

Diespeker & Co.’s MD John Krause was interviewed recently for Roost magazine.

Q: You have done floors and surfaces for many beautiful restaurants. I particularly like the floor at Bob Bob Ricard. The terrazzo is rich and opulent – to match the ‘champagne button’ on the tables! Are there any commercial restaurant projects you are working on at the moment? Or any other interesting projects you’d like to mention?

A: The team recently completed flooring in the bars and restrooms of the stylish new Percy & Founders restaurant in Fitzrovia using six different designs from our standard terrazzo range. We also created the restaurant’s sophisticated herringbone marble entrance floor which combines Blue de Savoie marble with the pale grey-veined Statuary Vein. In the Wright Brother’s restaurant on Old Compton Road we’re currently laying installing  conglomerate marble paving – conglomerate gives a high consistency in colour and strength. One of our more complex bespoke projects at the moment is for a luxury ice cream parlour in Central London. We can’t say too much about it yet but the project involves casting a stunning bespoke terrazzo fountain and two bespoke terrazzo counter tops in yellow and blue – work is underway and the result is going to be stunning.

Q: I notice you had a crane installed at your factory in January, to help lift the heavy deliveries. What has been your most challenging commission logistically? And what is the lead time required for a bespoke commission of terrazzo?

A: We seem to manage to handle all the commissions without problems, though the crane has helped make life easier moving things around the yard including deliveries of standard terrazzo and natural stone from Italy.

The lead time on bespoke terrazzo projects is two tier – first we make up samples which we try to turn around within two to five days. Some clients like to experiment at this stage so it can take time, though others are very clear on what they want. One customer refurbishing a club in Brighton came in, grabbed handfuls of chipping from everywhere, including bits he broke off some of the marble slabs, threw everything in a bucket and said ‘That’s what I want’! The second element is making up the terrazzo mix, and the timing here depends on the complexity – it could be four to twelve weeks.

Q: Does the beauty of the materials, terrazzo, marble and granite, require a large space to best appreciate it? How can they work in smaller residential settings?

A: Although large spaces show off the beauty of terrazzo and natural stone in an impressive way, using the materials in smaller settings like kitchens, bathrooms and exterior areas adds a touch of luxury. I’m a big fan myself, in my own house the ground floor is laid with cool white marble throughout. Bespoke terrazzo gives carte blanche on design for worktops in the kitchen, you can use whatever colour combination you like – we’ve recently made one in canary yellow. And we teamed up with Maddux Creative to make unique pieces of furniture from bespoke terrazzo, using the chippings left over from other jobs. These are striking pieces, more art than furniture, although ultimately they are for practical use!

Q: Do you have many Surrey clients and have you noticed that different styles are more popular in different parts of the country? For example, marble in Surrey etc.

A: I wouldn’t say there’s more of a trend for one material than another in different regions, though certainly our Surrey customers love the opulence that natural stone offers, and the unique designs available with bespoke terrazzo. The customers who love our styles are those who appreciate the fine things, and sometimes the fun things, too. We’re seeing more of a trend towards glossy bespoke terrazzo, using gold chippings, coloured glass and mirrored fleck. One customer was interested in using bullets, but I don’t think he was from Surrey…

Q: If terrazzo was popular in 1960s council and municipal buildings, has its reputation changed now or has it always been popular in more opulent settings too?

A: In the 1950s and ‘60s terrazzo was seen as a cost-effective alternative to granite and marble at a cost level so it was ideal for public buildings and concourses – the concourse at Charing Cross Station is terrazzo, and we’ve recently been involved in refurbishing and restoring some of the tiles there.  As for opulent, terrazzo was extremely popular with developers during the 1970s and ‘80s as new buildings and offices shot up – you can see it in many prestigious office buildings that were constructed during that era, especially in the ‘Champagne ‘80s’.     

Q: What are some examples of terrazzo you’re particularly inspired by? For example in unusual situations?

A: I’m drawn to terrazzo that looks interesting and intricate. We work increasingly with resin based terrazzo these days – a material that designers in the States really go to town with. I’ve been to Caesar’s Palace Pier shopping mall in Atlantic City and the use of terrazzo there really plays with intricate detail, combining colours and patterning for a really impressive finish. Closer to home, the pattern work in Hatfield Shopping Centre I think is inspiring, again, a great use of colours. The bespoke terrazzo furniture we’ve produced with Maddux Creative, it has to be said, really shows the material off in a very different way – we’re delighted with the results.

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