The blend of the talent and the knack in arts like drawing, painting, and constructing would surly output distinct diversified artwork. Mille Pezzi, a word which means one thousand pieces in Italian, is a newly established mosaic design and service studio, located in Berlin and founded in 2010 by Hamid Spahi, a distinguished artist who has Egyptian origins. ASK had the chance to interview Spahi, during his mosaic workshop in Egypt, concerning his onset as mosaic artist, the process of his creations, the history of the use of mosaics, and his finest genteel and elegant achievements and products.

Origin, Education, and Onset About his origins and education, Mr. Spahi said “I was born in 1965 in Stuttgart. My father came from Egypt to study in the mid 1950s and my mother is German. All of my education I obtained in Germany as I acquired a Masters degree in architecture & urban planning in 1994”.

Concerning his onset to become a mosaic designer, he explained that being an architect gave him the opportunity to amalgamate both his talents in free arts and in engineering and the mosaic helped him to develop and make use of all his abilities to create a different type of art. “Currently my profession is being an architect, an interior designer, and an artist in the field of mosaics. My aim is to work entirely with combining it all and now the professional home base of my work is my mosaic school, shop and studio called Mille Pezzi) located in Berlin,”, added Spahi.

The History of Mosaics The ancient historical records stated that the first mosaics were probably created around the 3rd millennium BC in the region between Euphrat and Tigris, located in today’s Iraq. These were simple structures made out of natural stones and were meant to be utilized as a mean of protection for wooden pillars, used in the construction of temples. The first need for mosaic was not art in the first place, but rather a surface used as safeguards. The stones were glued on the pillars with a kind of asphalt. This way, the sensitive wood had a hard surface to endure sun, rain, wind and insects. Throughout millenniums and centuries, mosaics kept existing and progressing, mostly in the Mediterranean area. In the Byzantine era, mosaic became the state of the art to express mostly religious messages, using precious colors and materials like red glass, gemstones, and gold. Today, we have a very vivid mosaic scene, still dominated by Mediterranean countries. We can see two segments here: traditional mosaics (hand glazed ceramic and clay tiles for instance from Morocco), and modern mosaics (sophisticated, industrially produced or handmade glass mosaics in an endless variety of colors and abstract patterns, from Italy).

The Process of Creation For Spahi, Design means “the best function combined with memorable art”. Mosaics today can be used, like any other material, both in interior and exterior. The first concern Spahi has at the very beginning is “the where and why” as he has to view the site where the mosaic will be lastly positioned himself and then he dialogues with the client about his needs, wishes, and about the inspiration that made him think of mosaics.

“Like ceramic or glass tiles, mosaic is a perfect surface to be positioned in wet surroundings like kitchen, bathroom, spa or pool. The differences lie within the opportunity to create refined patterns, to draw, paint, or write calligraphy with fine pieces, to customize for instance three colors into one pattern, which softly change into another range of colors and patterns” said Spahi.

These surfaces Spahi designs and produces delicately piece by piece on the table of his studio, then delivered in sections to the site, where we glue and grout them in the final position. “Clients chose from the variety of colors and materials I am being provided with by the best producers of Italy, or, in special cases, they can chose from a variety of hand glazed tiles produced by myself” added Spahi.

The Services of Mille Pezzi The services of Mille Pezzi cover everything from creating and producing mosaic surfaces to delivering and installing them. “Commercial clients can look forward to having unique interiors for shops and offices and a corporate logo or business sign made of mosaic is a quite memorable attraction, too”, said Spahi. Aside from these bigger works, the studio offers a variety of unique mosaic items for everyday use and decoration, such as mosaic tables, vases, and artistic images and they also offer beginners and advanced students with mosaic materials and tools. The Best Achievements About his finest mosaic achievements Spahi said “In 2012, I created a mosaic wall for a luxury condominium building, located outside of Hurghada, Egypt. This state of the art building, designed for European clientele by a German architect, had to combine a cool modern approach with the spirit of Arabic culture.” Inspired by several images he had found in Cairo’s Khan el Khalili, made of 6 to 12 hand glazed ceramic tiles, depicting traditional Arabic motives, Spahi decided to make the centerpieces, surrounded by accurately cut frames and a sea of wildly combined pieces of all shapes, mostly in the color range of warm and cold white. “After setting the center pieces and their frames, I started to work “alla prima”, directly gluing pieces to the wall – thousands of pieces, each one precut by my hands, with some help of local assistants, which had never done any mosaic work before and the result was a fascinating piece of art,” said Spahi.

Images courtesy of Mille Pezzi