One-on-one with mosaic tile creator Danilo Bonazza
Danilo Bonazza is a mosaic artist and owner of Art & Mosaics. He discusses how he got involved with mosaic art and how he designs his works of art.
CSTD: How did you start becoming a mosaic tile artist? What’s your history and why do you do what you do?
Danilo Bonazza: I was born in Ravenna, Italy, and was immediately drawn to and inspired by the art and mosaics for which my city is famous. At a young age, I attended art classes, where I began to combine my love of drawing with the art of tiling and mosaics.
Upon graduation, I pursued several conventional career paths, including working in construction and tile installation, with the goal of eventually setting up my own business as a mosaic artist. After showing several pieces of my work in galleries and wining local art competitions, I decided I wanted to focus my energies on my art.
In 2001, I realized it was time to manifest my dream and I traveled to Dusseldorf to participate in the World Tile Installation Competition. I loved the challenge of the competition and showing myself and the world what I could create. I earned first place honors for quality and innovation, and won the competition again in 2002.
What were some of your first design experiences as a mosaic tile artist?
DB: Soon after the competition in Dusseldorf, I began marketing my work to the public and installing mosaics in bathrooms and spas at a time when mosaics were rarely used in those settings. Word of my work spread and I was asked to install two pools in the spas at the Grand Hotel in Gstaad, Switzerland. After that, I made the decision to work only with mosaics from that point forward.
When I returned to Ravenna, I began collaborating with Sicis The Art Factory, one of the world’s largest producer of artistic mosaics. Sicis invited me to install mosaics in the company’s showroom in New York City, which would become the largest and most significant showroom for mosaics to date.
I decided to relocate to the U.S. and, in 2008, founded my company – Art and Mosaics. Today, I travel throughout the U.S., installing mosaics in both residential and commercial spaces.
How do you come up with a design?
DB: I interview the client and architect/designer of the project in order to figure out their aesthetic preferences and see what ideas they might have for the design. I also provide my input based on the information they have provided, and then I come up with a couple of designs, which I share with them. They then give me feedback and I tweak the proposed design based on the new information provided. The process repeats itself until we reach the final approved design.
What’s a project that you’re extremely proud of that you have done with mosaic tiles?
DB: Honestly, there are too many projects to name them all. Swimming pools in Los Angeles, two murals at the Belo Horizonte Hotel in the Seychelles islands, the mosaic installations at the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas, the Crown Hotel in Melbourne, Australia, the main mural at the WWE headquarters in Stanford, many projects in Europe... the list is endless.
Most recently, I supervised the mosaic installation at the Versace flagship store in Miami. Versace was opening the new store and was looking for a special floor. A diamond-shaped mosaic glass was selected with five different colors in a specific pattern, and they asked me to perform the installation. The schedule was very unforgiving, but working day and night, I was able to make the deadline.
Do you chose certain mosaic tiles, or try to stick with a certain kind?
DB: I use high-end glass tiles from a variety of sources.
What products do you use when installing the tiles?
DB: I accent my mosaic installations with colored epoxy grout from Litokol, an Italian-based manufacturer of tile installation products. I also use the company’s “sparkling” grout – called Starlike grout – to add extra depth and dimensionality to my designs.
These colored and sparkling grouts have made a huge impact on my work and the artistic look of my installations. The availability of so many colors and finishes gives me the option to experiment and combine different colors, and ultimately bring more life to the final mosaics. In addition, designers and architects seem to appreciate the variety of looks that can be achieved using colored grout.
I also enjoy how easy the grout is to work with and its consistency from batch to batch – which is important when working with epoxy grouts. This gives me the peace of mind that my finished projects will not only look great but also will be very durable and not crack, stain or fade over time. I do a number of pool projects, and knowing that the grout is water-repellant and will stand up to moisture is also a big benefit.
What advice would you offer to someone who wants to get into doing mosaic art?
DB: It’s a very challenging field, so you need to be prepared. It is very difficult to achieve high standards, and the road is long and difficult. That said, it can be very rewarding.
Anything else you would like to mention?
DB: I get all of my Litokol products from Tile Doctor. When you do this kind of work, you really need a supplier you can depend upon, and I have found that with the Tile Doctor. It’s a collaborative effort and the end result is beautiful, timeless mosaics that make spaces come alive in new and eye-catching ways. And, that’s exciting.