The art of mosaic
Fantini’s mosaics can be found at the most prestigious locations in the world. From Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque to collaborations with luxury brand boutiques worldwide such as Gianni Versace,Hermès , Louis Vuitton and Moncler the mosaics are admired by visitors from across the globe for their splendour, beauty, and opulent elegance.
Behind each of these one-of-a-kind creations is a team of artists and craftspeople remarkably skilled in the art of mosaic. The artisans are based at the Fantini Mosaici's Milan workshop - the same workshop at which the company’s founder, Domenico Fantini, launched the business in 1900. Already then, Milan and Northern Italy were deemed the European cradle of luxury mosaics, and thanks to more than a century of Fantini’s excellence, that reputation still prevails.
Fantini’s luxury mosaics are made either in marble or glass. The marble is largely sourced in Italy, especially in the abundant neutral hues of beiges and off-whites, with Carrara and Statuario marble currently in high demand among the customers, alongside the classic choices of Botticino, Grigio Carnico, Verde Alpi and Rosso Verona. The coloured marble – whether green, red or the valuable blue, sourced through Italian companies, originates from foreign markets. When it comes to glass, it’s sourced exclusively in Italy, specifically in Murano – the island north of Venice renowned for its glass craftsmanship. Whilst marble mosaics present colour limitations due to the nature of the material, glass offers endless possibilities with more than 600 colour variations available.
When new mosaic commissions come to the Fantini workshop, they are first drawn by hand, with the design team meticulously planning the project tessera by tessera. Attention to detail, precision, and diligence are of utmost importance when working on the designs, which are then translated into technical drawings.
Once the drawings are printed in real scale and the stone has been sourced, the workshop artisans get to work on making the required tesserae for the project. The process starts by machine-cutting marble into strips, and then continues manually – each strip is cut into individual tesserae by hand. This process means that each mosaic piece has two straight sides – cut by the machine, and two organic sides - cut by hand.
The next step in the process is the assembly of the project’s design, split into panels of mosaic in various dimensions. Creating one such piece of the overall design can take up to a full working day, with between 1000-2500 individual tesserae placed within each panel. To do so, Fantini’s master craftspeople use the traditional reverse method, whereby each piece is placed in its position on top of the real scale drawing printed on paper. All of the pieces are then glued to the paper, and like that, they will be transported to the location at which they will be installed. Another method used particularly when working with glass is to set the tesserae within a prepared net panel corresponding with the design.
Each panel of the mosaic is marked with a number – once all of the panels reach the location of the project, they are installed in order, one by one, by Fantini’s specialist installation team. Using the reverse method, the panels are placed the paper side up and installed. Once all in place, the paper is taken out with water, revealing the final design, ready to be grouted with cement. When using the net technique, the tesserae are placed within the net at the project’s location.
Once completed, the Fantini mosaics catch the eye with their beauty and captivate the imagination with the storytelling of their designs. They embellish the spaces and add vibrant energy to the walls and floors they decorate. These timeless designs are made for generations to come and it’s only fitting that it’s the generations of master artisans that bring them to life, having worked passionately for more than a century to preserve the tradition of mosaics and enhance our world with their creations.