There is something that could be said about the connection between wine and the invention of a great idea.
This certainly holds true for Bob Harris, president of the Decorative Concrete Institute. During a recent trip to Italy with his wife, Lee Ann, he was discussing the current stamped concrete market with three executives of Ideal Work over a bottle of Italian wine and what Harris says was unbelievable pasta.
"There had been no new creations for several decades relative to innovative tools," Harris says. "During our relaxed evening it dawned on us -- why not come up with our own inspirational line of stamping tools capturing the local feel of some of the most historic regions in the world?"
The end result was the Paladiano "Wonders of the World" stamping tool line, inspired by locations such as Paris, Athens, Yorkshire and Venice. The first six patterns that are being produced -- Pavimento of Paris, Hammered Sofia Stone (inspired by Bulgaria), Yorkshire Cobble, Fractured Cypress Slate, Rotating Venetian Marble, and Stones of Athens -- are expected to be available for sale this spring. The patterns are patent-pending, and more are in development.
The stamping tools are cast with patterns taken from natural stones, which served as models for authentic textures. Each set boasts a unique set of shapes as well as unique texture patterns.
In all, the team visited 28 cities to obtain copies of more than 450 textures from 33 different types of natural stone, including granite, limestone and marble. "We took the samples from local quarries, exterior plazas, walkways and interior floors," Harris says. "We also studied how the stones were laid, which allowed us to replicate the architectural characteristics of each location."
Bob Harris and John Anderson, Luca Seminati and Maurizio Pontello of Ideal Work are business partners in Paladiano LLC, which owns the rights to the stamps. Brickform, a division of Solomon Colors Inc., is the exclusive manufacturer of the Paladiano line, and it will also take responsibility for training and joint marketing. "Overall, our exhaustive research and development work involved more than 45 people, more than 800 hours of experimentation, 650 hours of flight time, and the use of over 2,500 pounds of urethane and 40 cubic yards of concrete, the addition of many grey hairs and for some of us, the loss of hair," Harris says.
During a brainstorming session to pick a name for the company, Harris came across the term Paladiana in the glossary of a book. The team liked the name, but they were unaware of its importance to architecture. It refers to the style of 15th-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio.
Although authenticity was the main goal in producing this line, the team also considered the practical and creative needs of those who would be using the tools. With many of the patterns, they have encouraged random-looking results by increasing the number of stamp tools per set. Handles were placed so that when the artisan lifts the tool from the fresh concrete, the edges of the stamp don't bow and mar the surface. The team also reduced the need for hand tooling and simplified the creation of monolithic borders by designing sets of stamps that have top, bottom, and left and right halves
Another unique feature of the stamps is the fact that they are made of urethane, which expands the time frame for imprinting. They can be used for stamping earlier, and what's more, if the concrete sets too quickly or stamping begins on a firmer surface, they cause less joint fracturing.
Each pattern will be available in a boxed set with as many as eight unique patterns per set, along with accessories and matching flexible tools. Having the appropriate amount of tools gives craftspeople a fair chance to stamp the area before the concrete sets, Harris says.
Harris adds that he and John Anderson were able to pull from their experience as professionals to create a valuable product. "Quite frankly, we were sick and tired of how convoluted the market had become. There were too many failures from the wrong approach."