With its latest collections, is pushing more than one envelope nowadays. The company moves from product to concept, from traditional tiling to ceramic skins, and from inside to outside. Moreover, their concepts for tiles are no longer intended only for bathrooms and other wet areas, explains CEO Arthur Thomaes.
Mosa has been in business for 130 years. How does the company go about building on its legacy?
Arthur Thomaes: We combine the strong points of our tradition with a modern vision. To make our tiles, we use natural materials and a ceramic process that dates back 3000 years, but we also take advantage of the very latest technologies and draw inspiration from the spirit of the times. The right combination of tradition and innovation results in a timeless yet contemporary product, and that’s what we’re aiming for.
What are you doing to extend your network?
We try to have as much contact as possible with architects and designers. Of course, we go to fairs and events attended by architects, and we organize talk shows: Mosa Discussions. In addition, we’ve opened – Mosa Architectural Ceramics Centres – in several Western European cities and in New York. In these flagship showrooms, clients and visitors can view and discuss all the possibilities we offer. MACCs fulfil a studio function. Last but not least, we test all our products with the help of a large group of architects, who handle and discuss prototypes of each new series of tiles.
What are Mosa’s main developments at the moment?
We’re attempting to shed the idea that we just make products for walls and floors. What we have in mind is more of a ceramic skin. In the past, joints crisscrossing an otherwise smoothly finished tile wall were seen as a disadvantage, but today we include joints in the design of the overall pattern. Minimalism has passed its high point. A ceramic skin can be composed of tiles of various dimensions, various colours or chromatic gradations, flat tiles, relief tiles, tiles with a matte or gloss finish. For the series, we developed the Mosa Murals Generator, an online tool that encourages architects to create bespoke patterns. Products from different series can also be used together. We’re currently developing a system that will allow us to extend the idea much further. Just imagine the endless number of combinations that are possible with a collection that contains 3000 different tiles.
For some time, Mosa has no longer focused exclusively on the interior.
Slowly but surely, we’ve added outdoor products and projects to the tile collections we make for interior use. Five years ago we established . The style that marks our walls and floors indoors can now be seen on building façades and paved areas outdoors. Today’s architect can realize a monolithic building whose interior, exterior and immediate surroundings all exude the same atmosphere. This branch of the business opens the door to new products, new applications and new contacts. A completely new set of factors enters the picture when you’re dealing with façades. We’re providing not only a product but also systems and technical support. A well-laid floor tile remains in place, but you have to anchor a façade quite firmly and ensure its resistance to wind, rain and graffiti – not to mention that the façade is crucial to a building’s insulation system. We’re already making sustainable products, but now we can contribute to the sustainability of buildings.
What else does Mosa envision for the future?
We want to strengthen our position internationally. It would be terrific if we could open MACCs in 50 cities. In terms of style, our product reflects Northwestern European design and has an international appeal. We don’t need to make stylistic changes, but providing service is becoming increasingly important, and we will keep investing in that aspect of the business. We started small, but we’ve grown with leaps and bounds during the past 15 years. What we’re able to realize today is something we could only dream about 15 years ago. That success is where we find the impetus to keep growing. Not because bigger is better, but because growth will afford us the opportunity to engage in large-scale projects that are still beyond our reach. Well within reach, however, is a whole raft of new ideas.
Read the complete interview with Arthur Thomaes in St-W 96.
Photos courtesy of Mosa