Montblanc, Spain – Josep Maria Sans Amill didn’t have much free time or discretionary income to spend as a working student. And yet, somehow he managed to turn some scrap metal pieces into an automatic machine to create chain links. That was back in 1926, and his first products were used by his fellow Spaniards as curtains for domestic purposes; today, the colourful anodized aluminium pieces that his descendants sell at Kriskadecor are used by businesses worldwide to attract consumers.
The company develops projects in hotels and restaurants, corporate offices, public spaces – from museums to shopping centres and fairs – and even private residences. More than 70 per cent of the production goes abroad, to clients that range from Starbucks to Google and Marriott. Its main selling point? As each link works as if it were a pixel, the designer’s imagination is the limit for the customization options of the aluminium chains. The results are often breathtaking, and closer to art than décor – Patricia Urquiola and Philippe Starck, two visionaries who’ve worked with the Kriskadecor before, would know. Through its patented technology with a variety of densities and finishes, the company can create custom-made elements to cover walls with fixed or movable murals, or space dividers than can allow the passage of light and even recreate the effect of rain.
‘We’ve never stopped challenging ourselves to go beyond the limits of creativity,’ explained CEO Josep Maria Sans. ‘That’s how we’ve gotten a material such as aluminium to be prescribed in the more avant-garde design and architecture projects of the contract channel.’
Here are five recent projects that showcase the diversity of textures, shapes and volumes that can be achieved with the company’s aluminium links.
VINCCI GALA, BARCELONA (cover image)
It is often said that Salvador Dali would have never fulfilled his potential had it not been for the impact of his muse and co-author, Gala. Likewise, the Vincci Gala hotel in Barcelona, built on a stately building from 1900, could have never reached its artistic potential without the Kriskadecor chain links. Just take a look at the atrium: the heart of the project is a set of lights with a hanging veil of metallic chains, inspired by the organic forms of the surrealist painter’s work.
THE MANCUNIAN, MANCHESTER
Richard Rodger and Lorenz Hart wrote Blue Moon in 1934, and it quickly made the setlists of the likes of Frank Sinatra, Billie Holliday and Elvis Presley. But it wasn’t until 1990 that it made it to the chant list of the Manchester City supporters, who that year sang it for the first time, sky-blue scarves held high. For The Mancunian restaurant, located in the Etihad Stadium, the sound waves produced by the Cityzens are reflected on the metal mesh.
DIOR SHOWROOM, DUBAI
Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave of Kanagawa has been reproduced countless items in advertising, art and everyday objects. Now, here’s another incarnation for the beloved woodcut print: Philippe Bradshaw’s aluminium chains in the Dior showroom at the Dubai Mall.
ECUADOR PAVILION, MILAN EXPO
For the 2015 Milan Expo, Ecuador took the textile patterns of its Otavalo region and turned them into a series of facades nine metres high. On the technical side, the huge metallic structure, 25.4 metres wide on two sides and 15 metres each on the other two, was surprisingly light due to the composition of the material. On the artistic side, once the sunlight hit the chains, the shades of yellow, red, lilac, blue and green took on a striking 3D effect.
The UK’s most beloved spicy chicken chain had a colourful trick up its sleeve for the Altrincham location: the warm yellow space dividers and lighting structures. The space dividers in the shape of wavy semicircles were set in place with custom set rails, and the roof curtain and the cylindrical chandeliers provide a mesmerizing range of movement.