Has Anyone Else Noticed This ALL Over Instagram?
Collage by Edith Young; photos by Roberto Machado Noa via Getty Images and Maggie Shannon. Kyoto table by Shiro Kuramata.  

Remember when every Instagram still-life — whether of pink Himalayan sea salt or delicate gold jewelry — was shot on top of a white marble surface? I’m still not above it. Just last week I did the same with a pair of socks and some tomatoes (it’s the only spot in the kitchen that gets any natural light). 

The best socks on both sides of Finland (served with a side of tomatoes)

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But recently, the trend’s gone a bit haywire. A less humble, dare I say maximalist, version seems to be taking its place. In fact, I’m calling it maximalist marble, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s officially everywhere.  

Maximalist marble (or its many imitators) already exists in the world outside my smartphone: underfoot on the subway; under-tray at an In-N-Out Burger; along the black-and-pink tiling of the Hollywood Walk of Fame; in the waiting room for jury duty. It’s called terrazzo, and I’ve started pointing it out to anyone who will listen. 

Here are my theories as to why maximalist marble is emerging with such razzmatazz:

1. It feels aspirational.

There’s something luxuriously Italian-looking about it. If I owned this Aesthetic Pursuit table, I would probably enjoy a protein-rich breakfast each morning atop it. The unpredictable patterning of the terrazzo beneath my laptop would inspire my neurons to fire as I worked from home and I’d have so many more blockbuster ideas. I’d have a charmed life if my home office made me feel like I was working out of Bar Luce (the Milanese cafe designed by Wes Anderson at the Fondazione Prada, bespeckled with maximalist marble).

2. It’s literal eye candy.

It looks edible to me. Terrazzo is nearly identical to the traditional Italian nougat, Torrone, so it’s appealing to eyeballs and taste buds. It conjures up memories of those last nougat bits that stick to my teeth after finishing off a whole bar of Toblerone on an airplane. In the twilight of Willy Wonka’s career, he would have been an internet sensation had he built a house of nougat.

Photo by Maggie Shannon. 

3. The art world’s been hyping it.

The Memphis Group, the infamous Italian design and architecture group, is having a moment in the mainstream, and many of the contemporary designers who have hailed the group’s work feel vindicated by the wave of global attention. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s contemporary arm, the Met Breuer, put on a show featuring the Memphis Group’s founder, Ettore Sottsass. Museum visitors were awash in air conditioning and maximalist marble.

@pandahandler ❤️💅🏻🖤💅🏻💚💅🏻💛💅🏻💙

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4. It’s kind of uncool.

Linoleum, terrazzo’s municipal cousin, is so commonplace (subways, schools) that maximalist marble’s close association with this ubiquitous material puts it in dicey, sometimes extremely uncool territory, but in a good way. Kind of like ugly sneakers. It’s so not chic that it’s chic.

Have you noticed this, too? Does maximalist marble whet your aesthetic appetite like it does mine?

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  • well spotted 😉 and definitely made me think of ugly sneakers as in MR article

  • nikilips

    Memphis Milano is coming back with a vengeance and I LOVE it!

  • Arden

    heck yes love me some design eye candy, especially when it’s marble flavor (and now im craving marble loaf)

  • Richard

    Love this piece!

  • Emily

    not a huge fan of this as a design element on its own, but paired with the right things it can be great. the ettore sottsass show was awesome!

  • Laura Ghitoi
  • Hannah Dylan Pasternak

    EDITH i have noticed this everywhere too, it also is very much in the currently-hip 80s feminine/feminist aesthetic tons of brands are going for, and it’s funny because it always struck me as sort of normcore for some reason — like pretty in a tacky way

  • Amelia Diamond

    i STRONGLY DISLIKE memphis. I STRONGLY LIKE, however, this and you, edith

  • Jess


  • Caroline

    Yessss, Edith please capture these aesthetic/art trends for us all the time.

  • stephanie

    if you like this you should check out Danish design company HAY. Very much in line with this look.

  • Maggie Lanham

    yes!! i follow a house renovator on Instagram and noticed that he’s been posting all sorts of terrazzo and love it! yay for an edith article!

  • fortinbras

    Terrazzo tiles were unusually popular in India in the 70s-90s. My grandmother has tiles exactly like this: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7b1987f903cfa93bbf51bbdc83ec860d3f8683d9f0786aea2d85f0ea411a4ddf.jpg
    Makes me nostalgic. If I ever get to design my own house, I’d definitely put these in!

  • Lisa

    Jep, Terrazzo is everywhere. As an architect, I hope it’ll finally come back in architecture as well, as it is, besides being stylish, very very durable (just look at the Pompei floors…all the Terrazzo is still perfect!). Hope people will be willing to pay the extra price for having a proper material in their buildings!

  • As an architect I am seeing that terrazzo is terribly en vogue over the past 4 years. But in mainstream fashion terms I find this Acne 2014 collection as the starter of it all

  • sifsgoldwig

    I have terrazzo floors in the kitchen of my apartment and I absolutely love them because you can never tell that they’re dirty.

  • Riley W

    I haven’t seen this because I went down one slime-making rabbit hole and now my entire explore is SLIME VIDEOS SOMEONE HELP ME

    • Riley W

      With that said, this marble is lovely.

  • 808kate

    It gives me a kind of uncomfortable trypophobia feeling???

  • Morgan Siggard

    Lusted after cream terrazzo coasters on Instagram just last week!

  • Amber MB

    Reminds me of this, made from recycled plastic: https://www.instagram.com/stilllifeworkshop/

  • Sis

    “Terrazzo” literally means terrace/balcony in italian, it’s fun because here these type of mixed marble it’s often something uncool, kitsch or ugly that you usually find in your grandmother old style house, very common in public welfare blue collar houses in the 60’s and 70’s

  • I had not personally noticed this all over instagram but i LOVE IT. Seriously I love it. That bathroom is beyond dreams.

  • I work for a concrete polishing company and I’ve been trying to convince my bosses to make coasters and other homewares out of terrazzo with a huge aggregate like these. I love it so much because even though it’s “maximalist”, it’s a blending of two really simple things; concrete and stones or glass. I dig it.

  • Ashley

    I love it!
    I follow @ktgillies_surfacedesign on instagram and her take on it is beautiful

  • I’ve been in love with Terrazzo since I saw some terrazo-top coffee tables in an interior design feature… they’re like marble but less sterile.

  • Maison Kitsune in Paris!

  • belle

    Any architect can assure you that fugly terrazzo has been (back) in style for a good while now, so it’s starting to trickle into fashion/instagram territory. Like all other things from the 80s, it will fall out of style again. I have a few samples laying around that I actually like and tend to suggest for projects, but it’s VERY easy for terrazzo to veer into the ugly/kitschy/tacky realm. If your scarf has a “terrazzo” pattern that’s one thing, but if you pour an ugly floor it’ll be there for a while…. that said, terrazzo can be a nice (and cheap) alternative to a tiled or stone floor, and it CAN be done right even if it often isn’t.

  • Lyla

    Google the Memphis Group

  • elpug

    it seems like upscale confetti? not sure if i like.

  • Katie

    I actually love some terrazo, it can be over-the-top in some designs, but in the right combination of colors and textures, it’s really beautiful. I had some in an apartment I had in France, and it was SO easy to take care of without the grout lines of regular tile.

    But I’m *pretty* sure that your picture credited to Maggie Shannon is actually nougat (it looks exactly like nougat de Montélimar!) 🙂

    • Katie

      Hah, read too fast, my fault!

  • Cléo Charpantier

    YES ive had my eye on terrazzo for a year or so now thats to stellar trend-spotter and trend-setter Miss Moss http://www.missmoss.co.za/tag/terrazzo/

  • Rachel
  • Beth Herrin Cole

    I’m an asbestos inspector and I can only think when I see it that some terrazzo floors contain asbestos