“In creating the Tessera panels, versatility and modularity were my two main goals,” says Paola Lenti, an Italian designer specializing in minimalist rugs and furniture. After she introduced the collection in 2000, Lenti was committed to maintaining the tiles’ durability and developed three upholstery options suitable for a range of high-end residences, commercial interiors, and marine applications.
The tile’s core consists of two layers of polyethylene foam—a material typically used to line the inside of motorcycle helmets and ski boots—that provide acoustical protection and insulation. The supple top layer and rigid bottom layer combine to form a resilient panel that’s comfortable to walk on. The upholstered surface, foam core, and knit Velcro underside are heat-sealed and thermoformed to give each tile a durable texture and precise look.
The 60-centimeter-square tiles are available in Divina wool felt, a 93 percent wool/7 percent nylon blend called Rice, and a synthetic leather known as STC. The felt version offers the broadest range of colors, with more than 50 options, while the STC is available in three textures and is designed to prevent slipping when wet, making it appropriate for use near a swimming pool or a bathtub, or on a boat.
“You can use these mass-produced tiles to build a completely customized rug,” Lenti says. And once placed on the floor it will not move unless deliberately picked up by hand.
Tessera Rug Panels
A double layer of pliable polyethylene foam is upholstered in one of three textiles: wool felt, a wool-nylon blend, or faux leather. Nylon fiber lines the underside.
The durable wool-nylon blend is suitable for high-traffic and commercial interiors; the plush Divina felt is intended for the home; and water-resistant faux leather is for use in bathrooms, kitchens, poolside, or on a boat.
The polyethylene foam core provides insulation and sound absorption, and molds gently in response to pressure before resuming its original shape. Rubber-lined Velcro strips on the underside prevent the tiles from skidding.
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