Andrew Giacon shares the unlimited potential of terrazzo - People NZ
Andrew Giacon shares the unlimited potential of terrazzo

Andrew Giacon shares the unlimited potential of terrazzo

Taught by generations before him, Andrew Giacon has been crafting terrazzo for projects across the country for over 30 years. He shares how the bespoke material can push design boundaries, and how sustainability is becoming an important ingredient.

Words by Cassie Birrer

While terrazzo can be traced back to the same time as when the Egyptian pyramids were being built, the terrazzo that we’re familiar with today started with Venetian artisans adding marble off cuts to concrete 500 years ago.

It’s a process that Andrew Giacon is very familiar with.

“Both my grandfathers, on my Mum’s and Dad’s sides, emigrated from Italy in the early 1920s,” shares Andrew, The pair of them, Luigi Giacon and Giovanni Battista, provided much of the terrazzo in Napier – New Zealand’s Art Deco capital. And the Giacon name has been associated with New Zealand terrazzo since, with Andrew now the managing director of Giacon Terrazzo.

Andrew's grandfather, Luigi Giacon, with his terrazzo murals.
I guess I’ve carried on the tradition, which has been really special.
Luigi Giacon's terrazzo factory.

“I grew up with terrazzo. School holidays were spent in the factory helping, and I’ve been doing terrazzo full-time now for just over 30 years. I guess I’ve carried on the tradition, which has been really special.”

Having also completed a building apprenticeship in his earlier years, Andrew loves to see the creative ways terrazzo is used in architectural projects across Aotearoa.

“I love the creativeness of terrazzo and what can be done with it. Every job we do is slightly different and I can sit with clients to design their own personal mix. Seeing the end product is still special. You might repeat mixes over the years, but every piece is unique.”

I love the creativeness of terrazzo and what can be done with it.
"Every job we do is slightly different and I can sit with clients to design their own personal mix," says Andrew.
Giacon Terrazzo can precast the material to be curved, or to form stairs, vanities, and other shapes.

Andrew has had a hand in crafting terrazzo for flooring, benchtops, commercial sales counters and everything in between, and isn’t afraid to push the boundaries. A recent project for Rodd & Gunn saw terrazzo formed into countertops and bar tables with curved features for the brand’s Lodge Bar at Commercial Bay.

While the process of manufacturing terrazzo has improved since the early days of the 20th century when Andrew’s grandfathers were in the industry – including machinery that allows for faster processing – Andrew says that he is excited to see the way emerging professionals are bringing along new ideas and a focus on doing things better.

“My wife and I made the decision that we’re going to commit to recycling and sustainability, and instead of importing marble as we used to, we're really focused on using recycled and local ingredients in our products so they are not just locally made but also sustainable. We get off cuts from marble and granite companies and we’re crushing it and recycling it by putting it back into our terrazzo,” says Andrew, revisiting how terrazzo was originally made by Venetian workers utilising the waste chips from slab marble processing.

Giacon Terrazzo poured golden in situ terrazzo floors with brass inlays for the Auckland War Memorial Museum's Te Ao Mārama section in the South Atrium.
The white marble in Auckland's Aotea Centre was crafted by Giacon Terrazzo using the old marble that was removed from the walls.

“There’s a lot of young designers and architects coming on board who are really embracing that. To be able to sit down with them and bring their vision and concept through to the finished product is what I’m really enjoying at this stage of my career.”

And in a way, it’s not only the manufacturing process that becomes full circle through recycling – Andrew also restores some of the beautiful heritage terrazzo across New Zealand, some of which his grandfathers created.

“It is always a pleasure,” he says. “I never get sick of looking at terrazzo.”

Andrew is also proud to have made the in situ terrazzo floor at 110 Customs street, a finalist in this year's Interior Design Awards: "It shows that although an ancient art, it is still at the forefront of design."

Explore the terrazzo products available from Giacon Terrazzo.

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