Trends, Tips and Terrazzos

Posted by: Jules Garon - 15.02.23

It may be called the Surface Design Show but as I found out when I made the trip down to the Business Design Centre in London this month, there was plenty going on beneath the surface at this year’s show. 

I’d popped down because as part of my role as Creative Producer & Digital Styling Manager I’m always on the lookout for the news about the latest trends in surface materials and designs. At Ride Shotgun we’re always on the lookout for new ways to (gently!) nudge clients towards the kind of cutting-edge looks they may not even realise are possible or achievable with CGI.


With over 180 exhibitors from 19 different countries and 24 presentations from 50 speakers over 3 inspiring days this year’s show certainly didn’t disappoint.


First up, terrazzos and marble finishes are a trend that’s not going away just yet. What is new is how these familiar and well-loved materials are now being created in really inventive, inspiring and sustainable ways using waste or recycled materials. 

One such company was Spared who work with waste to create bespoke handmade terrazzo style surfaces for furniture, art and other decors. Some of the materials they work with were really surprising and inspiring including plastics, masonry and even seashells.  For example, they were asked by a credit card company to make them some bespoke terrazzo desks for an office space out of waste credit cards.  


I also met Brian Corbett from Vico Visual Concrete who introduced me to their stunning bespoke concrete products featuring printed designs on an architectural scale like building facades and interiors. They can ‘etch’ images, text and almost any design into the concrete surface in very fine detail. 

It’s worth noting that this is mainly for commercial use and is usually out of the scope of residential products due to the scale involved and the high price point. They have a series of ‘off the peg’ designs but can also create bespoke finishes to any brief. 


I also bumped into Ffion Espley from Raniere Lava Stone. They make sustainable super hard-wearing tiles from lava stone, which has a beautiful, enamelled glaze. This volcanic stone is perfect for bringing a new angle to outdoor features like swimming-pool coatings, thanks to its heat accumulation capacity.


The ‘Colour, Materials and Finish Forecast: 2024’ talk by Colour Hive/Mix Magazine gave me some invaluable insights about forthcoming trend and colour direction. 

I’m a follower of theirs so was fascinated by Creative Director, Hannah Malein’s presentation as she explored how collaborative trends will inform design concepts and influence the creation of meaningful design solutions across all kinds of different creative applications. For example, a project called ‘APeel’ with designer Alkesh Palmer created a range of citrus juicers made from orange peel powder bound with pectin.  


There was also an inspiring talk entitled ‘Hiding in Plain Sight: The Second Harvest by Annabelle Cox from fibre technology company Tensei in which she talked about…straw. They’re using waste crops like straw to produce punnets to transport and sell strawberries from the farm. An added bonus is that these straw-based containers actually improve the shelf life of the fruit!  


A common thread throughout was the need to think about sustainability in a more critical way. Designers and product developers need to offer clients more sustainable solutions to their briefs, considering not just end-of-life issues like how long it takes to break down and how compostable it is, but also whether it can have a new life and be used again.  

Pioneers of new materials don’t want to be controversial or disruptive, they want to be ‘copied’ by other companies. They want to encourage others to join in and to my mind, this thinking needs to become mainstream!  

Some of the new materials, such as those being developed by Tensei, can even be created using existing manufacturing processes to ease the change further still. 


Finally, I was inspired to see the challenge of sustainability creating opportunities like new plastics and pigments made from seaweed, tile glaze made from urine, mango and coconut ‘leathers’, fish scales, old CD’s and tapes, tiles ‘grown’ from bacteria, terrazzo made entirely from materials from the ocean like shells and algae bonded with fish glue, and vases made from…wait for it… dung! 

Needless to say, I’ll be keeping my nose to the ground for further developments! 

Check out one of our other blogs on the best way to use vintage props for a sustainable and impactful photoshoot.