The home of architecture and design in Asia-Pacific

Get the latest design news direct to your inbox!

Five minutes with … Aybars Asci!

We caught up with the Academy KAZA Tile Design Competition reigning champion, Aybars Asci, to get a first-hand account of the story behind ‘Liquid Forms’.

Five minutes with … Aybars Asci!

This year, Academy Tiles – Australia’s most trusted tile brand – in partnership with the Hungarian design powerhouse, KAZA, presents the Academy KAZA Tile Design Competition. The competition offers aspiring and established designers alike the unique opportunity to see their original 3D tile design transformed from a dream into reality.

Designers are invited to respond to KAZA’s virtually unlimited technological capabilities and Academy Tiles’ ethos of fearless creativity by designing their own decorative 3D concrete tile. The competition prompts designers to reconsider the age-old design dictum of ‘form before function’, and instead carefully consider the unique opportunities provided by concrete in comparison with other materials.

We caught up with the Academy KAZA Tile Design Competition reigning champion, Aybars Asci, to get a first-hand account of the design story behind his winning design ‘Liquid Forms’. As president and founder of Efficiency Lab for Architecture, Aybars Asci is an advocate of research driven design that combines conceptual clarity with analytical processes such as the use of algorithmic tools and building performance modelling. With more than twenty years experience working in New York, Ankara and London, in addition to projects in North America, Central America, Middle East and Asia, the international scope continues to leave an indelible mark on Asci’s creative practice. 

.          .          .    


IndesignLive: Your architectural practice has seen you work across projects through many continents. Did this international context of your work affect the design of Liquid Forms?

Aybars Asci: As an architect who has been practising across different cultures, I embrace both the cultural specificity of the local context and the universal values of design. To me one key aspect is how we experience design. For instance, the tactile qualities of surfaces as they respond to our touch as we move our hands over it or to our vision as they transform with light. It is visceral, it is tied to human experience. I think Liquid Forms offers a visceral experience of surfaces in a diversity of assemblies without imposing any stylistic reading. It has the potency to manifest a new reading in each specific context within which it will be located.


One of the most interesting differences between your architectural design practice and your design of Liquid Forms is this dramatic difference in scale. What were some of the major similarities and dissimilarities for you, designing across both the macro and micro scales?

This is my first tile design. As a designer I try to challenge myself with different scale design problems, and I thought this competition offered an opportunity to design at a product scale. Designing a product is very tangible, in a way you can design and almost immediately see the result, take it in your hands and feel it. A product has a life of its own. I am looking forward to seeing other architects and interior designers using the Liquid Forms in their projects. Each project will breathe a new life into it.


From the perspective of your practice as an architect, is Liquid Forms (to an extent) the result of a need that you’ve perceived lacking in architectural tiling currently available?

I would not say that it grows from a lack of options in architectural tiling because there is quite a number of exciting tiling products available in the market. However, Liquid Forms offers a unique transition from the flatness of a surface to three dimensions. You can say it is almost 2.5 dimensional, not flat as a plane, and yet not an independent volume. This dimensional ambiguity is a unique quality of the design.


One of the surprising elements of Liquid Forms is its high degree of versatility – being equally at home in hospitality environments, residential and commercial spaces, for example. Are you looking forward to watching how different sectors will reinterpret its forms?

Tiling by nature is about repetition. And repetition can be a powerful design tool when there is complexity in patterning and variations within the field of repetition. Very much like the minimalist music of Steve Reich or Philip Glass. The individual Liquid Forms tile is conceived to have a form that can translate the pattern to its neighbouring tile differently in all four directions, and thus creating variations through repetition, resulting in a rich visual field of movement. Liquid forms is aesthetically versatile. The sensual qualities it offers will be at home in a variety of functional typologies, especially for those that favour the importance of spatial experience. I am looking forward to seeing it used in different contexts.


As the winning design of the Walker Zanger Kaza Design Competition, Liquid Forms was judged by some very big names in contemporary design. How was this experience for you personally?

Design competitions play an important role in the architecture and design world in promoting talent and design excellence. I applaud Walker Zanger, Kaza Concrete & Architectural Digest for organising this competition. Being acknowledged by a distinguished design jury and awarded the first prize at the competition gives me inspiration to move forward in my design journey.


Additionally, Liquid Forms appears to complement the existing Walker Kaza Collection, perfectly. When developing the design, did you take cues from the brand’s previous portfolios?

Kaza Concrete is an exceptional company that fosters innovation and design excellence. Having my design produced by Kaza Concrete and their high level of craft is very fulfilling. The tiles look absolutely beautiful. I think Liquid Forms complements the variety of very exciting designs in the brand’s heritage and current collections.


Aesthetically speaking, what drove the design of Liquid Forms from the earliest stages of the design process through to the final, winning form?

The nature of concrete as a material has always been very inspiring to me – it is poured in a liquid state, and it takes its ultimate form as it cures. There is poetry in a material that finds its form as it changes phases. When I see a concrete surface, I always imagine its liquid state, its movement as it is poured. The concept I explored for this design was the expression of flow and movement in a solid form.


Liquid Forms by Aybars Asci for Kaza and Academy TIles

Liquid Forms by Aybars Asci for Kaza and Academy TIles


Was freedom in terms of flexibility and the degree to which the form of each tile allows designers to reinterpret pattern, repetition, rhythm and scale to suit their own projects, an important goal for you in designing Liquid Forms?

“One tile – multiple patterns” was the motto of the design. The ability of a single tile design to generate multiple patterns is an important characteristic of Liquid Forms.


Celebrating the material qualities of concrete is clearly a big influence for Liquid Forms. Before you had resolved the form of the tiles, was working in concrete something that you had already decided upon? Or, did the selection of concrete arise from designing the final form?

Concrete as a material was there at the beginning. The competition was for Kaza Concrete so I was working with the parameters of concrete as a material.


Did using concrete as a material allow you to change and reinterpret the sculptural feel for Liquid Forms?

Throughout my career I have been working with concrete. The scale of which it is used is very different in buildings, especially super tall buildings. Even though the challenges of pouring concrete at a much larger scale for building structures are fundamentally different than using concrete as a material for tiling, there are similarities. For instance, regardless of scale, the ultimate form is shaped by the type of formwork, how concrete is poured and what type of mixture of concrete is used. These are all considerations that played into the ultimate form of Liquid Forms.


In the interplay of curvilinear edges and organic forms, it is clear that Liquid Forms’ sculptural feel and material qualities work together. In the built environment, however, what effect do you think this will lend? (I.e, interaction with light etc.)

The edges are boundary conditions and they play a key role as to how a field condition behaves, visually or otherwise. The edges that transform the curvature of Liquid forms start from its shallowest surface point reaching towards the furthest three dimensional point, inscribing the movement in the form. Without the edges the surface movement will not be perceivable. If I were to make an analogy, it will be a breaking wave. The edge formed as the energy of the wave dissipates is also how one visualises the form of a breaking wave.


Elsewhere you have referenced the work of Philip Glass, sculptural traditions and the changing states of liquid into solids. Is this ‘transformative’ aspect an central characteristic of Liquid Forms?

Philip Glass’ musical phrases transforming one into another and creating an amazing field condition is something I love to hear over and over again. In some regards the musical reference was really about my aspiration to create a diverse visual field that is formed by the propagation of a repetitive element.


In terms of aspect ratio, Liquid Forms’ composition allows for an enormous degree of flexibility to create different pattern compositions. What was the prototyping development, and how did you negotiate it, to settle on the final form and spec for each tile?

Kaza Concrete is an exceptional company that fosters innovation. They are used to working with designers. We did not run into any production challenges. During the competition phase we designed within the technical specifications of Kaza Concrete. After winning the competition we submitted our digital model to Kaza and they produced a master production model which we reviewed and approved. The master model Kaza produced fully reflects the design intent and the tiles they fabricated are astonishingly precise and beautiful.


.          .          .


Entries for the 2018 Academy KAZA Design Competition are currently open!

The winner of the Academy Kaza Design Competition will have their product realised, manufactured and promoted – across Australia by Academy Tiles + Surfaces and worldwide by all other KAZA Concrete distributors – receiving a royalty from KAZA Concrete for all worldwide sales. The winning designer will join some of the world’s most respected designers in the official KAZA Concrete collection. Click here to view the current KAZA Concrete collection.

The winner will also receive a trip to Budapest, Hungary, to tour the KAZA Concrete production facility. A return flight and 3 nights’ accommodation at the Four Seasons Hotel Budapest are included.


To enter, designers must submit orthographic 2D or 3D illustrations of their tile design, including annotations for dimensions and scale. This must be accompanied by a maximum 500-word description of the submission. Entries to the Academy KAZA Tile Design Competition are now open and will close on 16 July 2018, with the winning entry announced on 29 August 2018. Learn more about the competition and browse Academy Tiles’ stunning catalogue here

INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

Indesign Our Partners

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!

Related Stories

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed