Metal Cladding

June 2011
June 2011

A roundup of rain screens, panels, mesh, and other cladding solutions in metal

By Rita Catinella Orrell

Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, the Cantú, Italy—based metalworking firm Marzorati Ronchetti specializes in custom-made furnishings, art, and cladding for public and private spaces. Headed by Stefano Ronchetti, the grandson of one of the founders, the company regularly cooperates with architects and designers on projects ranging from high-end retail, such as the De Beers store in Los Angeles by Antonio Citterio to cultural works, like the Design Museum in Holon, Israel, by Ron Arad.

Photo © Josh Cho
The woven aluminum bands of the Missoni boutique in Los Angeles by Kinmonth Monfreda help transform it into a lantern at night.

View a slideshow of the latest metal cladding.

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A majority of the firm’s work is for commercial projects, while 15 percent is residential and 25 percent involves design pieces and art sculptures, such as the Spun (Coriolis) chair, architect Thomas Heatherwick’s new rotating chair made in carbon steel and bronzed brass shown at this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan (a plastic version of the chair is being produced by Magis). Thanks to branch offices in New York, London, Dubai, and Düsseldorf, Marzorati Ronchetti is a truly worldwide company, exporting 98 percent of its production. While specializing in stainless steel, the firm also works in carbon steel, aluminum, silver, and even wood, using various techniques, including polishing, blackening, patinating with acid, and hand-hammering. Depending on the project, artisans work either by hand or with the latest CNC milling and laser- or water-jet-cutting technologies.

For a recent project in the United States, the company fabricated an attention-grabbing exterior cladding on the high-profile corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles for the Italian fashion house Missoni, designed by Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda of Kinmonth Monfreda. “As designers, we naturally needed collaborators to realize the highly demanding architectural vision that we conceived for Missoni. Marzorati Ronchetti were outstanding in their contribution,” says Kinmonth, who, with Monfreda, designed the entire project, inside and out. Designed to reflect the Missoni brand’s balance between “revelation and concealment,” according to Kinmonth, the exterior imitates a fabric made of interwoven, opaque white-powder-coated aluminum bands that filter the light of Los Angeles into the glass walled box of the store during the day, while the facade becomes a lantern at night. “Unlike most stores, we were not intent on trying to show as much as possible of the interior from outside,” says Kinmonth, ”but on luring you to investigate further.” The 78 aluminum sheets, which cover the structure in glass, steel, and cement, weigh a total of 22,000 pounds and were shipped by container from Italy to Los Angeles.

“Perhaps the biggest challenge for all of us was how to keep the poetry of the original idea through the practical building process,” explains Kinmonth. Marzorati Ronchetti needed to devise a way for the entire exterior to hinge open for cleaning in all directions and allow access to all components of the facade and the steel and glass elements behind it. The resulting design, says Kinmonth, “is a source of constant wonder and pleasure to all of us who worked on the building.” Marzorati Ronchetti, New York City. Circle 200

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