Louvre-Lens, France

Project: Louvre-Lens, France

Italian tilemaker Trend, market leader in the production of glass mosaic tiles, has completed a highly prestigious international contract for the Louvre’s new gallery annexe in the city of Lens, in the Nord-Pas de Calais region of France. It entailed one of its most distinguished artistic commissions ever, for the creation and installation of floor mosaics for the celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, regarded as an important voice in the avant-garde movement. Featuring Kusama’s trademark bright colours, bold patterns and polka dots, the floral mosaics have been laid by hand in the La Scène auditorium of the Louvre-Lens, where it will be seen and walked on by hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Thanks to the company’s use of advanced digital technology for rendering the artwork into mosaics and its in-house management of the entire design and production stage. Trend was selected to reproduce Kusama’s complex floor patterns with micro mosaic tiles from its 1 x 1cm collection, even creating special fluorescent hues and colourful shades to match precisely the original artwork. Trend’s environmental sustainability credentials, with its tiles made from up to 70% recycled material and glass materials destined to last a lifetime, were also among the reasons it was entrusted with this notable project.

Opened in December 2012, the Louvre-Lens is one of France’s biggest recent cultural developments, representing an investment of €150 million and occupying a total surface area of 28,000m2 on a 20 hectare reclaimed site. A series of low rise, steel-and-glass buildings with a low environmental impact, the Louvre-Lens was designed by Japanese architects SANAA in association with New York museum specialists Imrey-Culbert and French landscape artist Catherine Mosbach, following an international architecture competition. It will house a rotating collection of around 900 masterpieces from the Paris museum, comprising a succinct history of art from the 4th millennium BC to the mid-19th century, shown in chronological sequence.

At the western end of the complex, La Scène will host conferences, screenings and live shows in a 300-seat auditorium, fully integrating all of its activities into visitors’ routes through the museum. A distinctive feature of the foyer will be a spectacular 200m2 mosaic by artist and sculptor Yayoi Kusama, who has been the subject of major exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo and, this year, at the Tate Museum, London. Now in her 80’s and acknowledged as one of the most important artists to come out of Japan, her work includes paintings, collages, soft sculptures, performance art and environmental installations, even collaborations with luxury brands Lancôme and Louis Vuitton.

Trend’s main technical challenge was to bring Kusama’s sketches to life, with the exact details and psychedelic colours, and the artist even insisted that the Italian design studio created several special tile shades from scratch. Employing computer-aided design techniques, Trend then created a digital interpretation of the source design, the pixellated properties of the tiny 1 x 1 cm glass mosaic tiles enabling precise reproduction. The tesserae are traditionally fused and coloured en masse to ensure consistency of shade throughout the depth of the tile, retaining their definition and brightness over a lifetime. They are resistant to sunlight and colour fading, non-porous to water, will withstand cleaning fluids and are inherently slip resistant, qualities that make authentic glass mosaic historically valued for such works of installation art.

“We are proud to have been asked to collaborate on such a distinguished artistic project, especially as we share the same philosophy of environmental sustainability,” says Federica Bisazza, Trend’s Manager of Image, Communications and Projects. “For Trend, this serves as further recognition of the work that we have carried out over the years with passion, skill and an absolute dedication to quality.”

The same quality and technical characteristics are extended to Trend’s stock range of authentic glass mosaic tiles, available in standard 1cm, 1.5cm and 2cm square formats and a series of irregular and hand-cut sizes. Offered in an astonishing selection of colours, textures and materials, including precious enamels and 24 carat gold leaf, the Trend collection is intended to inspire professional architects, interior designers, artists and mosaicists to create bold and imaginative surface designs in urban environments, commercial and residential buildings, private settings, retail areas and public spaces. The group also supports the world of contemporary art by fostering creativity and innovation through its sponsorship of international design prices and membership of artistic bodies.