Who: Dana Berkowitz
What: Hacienda Design Studio - Cement Remixed
(and soon to be Internationally)
When: They launched just this year, and are already on fire
One afternoon in Yucatan's Historic District of Merida, Mexico, not so long after the last hammer and drill were packed up and the final contractor left, Dana Berkowitz sat in the uncanny quiet of her newly restored mansion drumming her fingers together slowly. Sitting on the edge of the couch, unsure how to relax just yet, she realized she'd done it, she'd accomplished her dream of restoring her very own beautiful, historic home in Mexico. The 1840's carriage house she'd bought in ruins just a few years before was now her very own pristine, restored historic home. Her drumming fingers came to a stop.
"I literally remember looking around and the first and only thing I could think of was: now what?"
|The restored Yucatan home with original cement floors|
Being intrigued by the beauty and durability of the tiles in her own home, and what she was noticing more and more in her surroundings, Dana began to do her research. Over two centuries ago cement tile made its way from Europe (Dana notes, most likely France) to Mexico where it grew in popularity and was quickly utilized as a regular part of building and decoration.
"Not only did the tile in my 170 year old house last nearly two centuries, but during the restoration, ceilings and walls were demolished right on top of the unprotected cement floors. When the rubble was carted away the floors were polished and still looked fantastic. And then I find out that on top of all of this: it's eco-friendly and LEED certified."
As the pebbles of inspiration began taking shape (and color) in Dana's mind she found herself talking to more people about cement tile and eventually asking some of the local shop and factory owners she was meeting in Mexico if they would work with her on some designs she had brewing.
|Some of HDC's original dried color samples up close.|
Dana was no stranger to what a refined design aesthetic looked like. Prior to her journey to Mexico she had worked in the architecture + design industry at Pierre Frey, and for ten years as a Senior Design Consultant at Waterworks in [New York City's] Midtown location. With all the knowledge she had from her years in design, and now as a freshly minted home restoration veteran,
|Espresso from the side|
A lover of Mexico and the aesthetic of their traditional tiles, she knew for certain she did not want to replicate what has already been artistically mastered there. However, she did absolutely want to utilize the green, brilliant and simple manufacturing process she had now seen produce a product that could stand the test of time...
"It was very important to me to maintain the ancient handcrafted techniques, but not mimic or repeat the magnificent array of historic patterns already available. [What] I was intent on reinventing [was] the Look of cement tile...
|HDS' Sydney pattern adorns new counters at NYC's Salon Hecho.|
"I wanted to develop a modern, focused color pallet, going away from the typical rusts, greens and yellows- trying hard to pick the perfect greys, taupes, blues- and create simple modern designs that would work as a collection and fit more contemporary architecture and design. This way any space can have cement tile, not just historic, Spanish colonial spaces."
|A playful use of HDS' Monaco pattern adds a jovial sophistication to a children's 'mudroom' and never gets ruined!|
|Metal frame and template for the Prague pattern|
"Once the tile maker pours the cement into its respective sections, he or she places each tile into a hydraulic press with 1700psi to aid in the compression and elimination of moisture."
Cement in various pigments are mixed prior to their pour.
|A craftsman in Vietnam smooths moisture out of a tiles second layer.|
The final product was a tile that would last a lifetime and sustain a buildings character and story for generations to come, not to mention at an extremely modest price tag for the quality of the product. Dana wondered how many historic American buildings lost their luscious details and decor to time and poor upkeep- 'but imagine if they had been done in cement tile...', she thought, 'Perhaps more of the past could have naturally been preserved...' This was a product too good to let go without trying her hand at it.
|Cannes in Cloud + Sky|
While Dana continued to play with colors and design ideas that were growing steadily into a cohesive collection, her search for a factory she could utilize to make her new cement tile vision come to life continued. Now also beginning to plan her trip back to the Big Apple to take on what would soon become Hacienda Design Studio, Dana booked a meeting with a long time, trusted colleague of hers to get some feedback. She was blown away by the positive response and support of her designs. And she was even more taken when confiding in her colleague how
|A craftsman works with custom colors and layers in a tiles frame|
|Bruges in Cloud + Thyme|
|Bali in Marina, Bark, Cloud, Pebble + Pumpkin|
|HDS cement color samples for a mix + match session|
|Left: Provence tile prototype, Right: A cement rug designed with a Provence field and Vienna Border in Pebble, Shadow, Lily, Sky + Cloud.|
|HDS' Yolanda Lewis shares about finding inspiration everywhere, including stellar photography. Drawn to the movement and colors of the photo [left] she went into The Mixer to create a beauty of her own [right] with HDS' Seattle pattern.|
Hacienda Design Studio officially launched itself in January 2012, it's website in May of 2012 and has since been featured in the Stylist Home section of the Huffington Post. Their product is in use in numerous projects still in production and can be seen completed in Salon Hecho's new NYC digs. To order samples, tiles or to learn more about Hacienda Design Studio you can visit them at: www.HaciendaDesignStudio.com or follow their Blog.