CoorItalia is pleased to announce that Brombal USA, the manufacturers of its Steel and Bronze Windows and Doors, have passed Miami Dade certification.
There are a number of standards that regulate the air & water infiltration standards as well as deformation under stress. Whereas the majority of the USA works under AAMA Standard – 101/I.S.2-A440, the County of Miami Dade (because of their numerous hurricanes) additionally requires the units to twice successfully stop an 8', 9lb 2x4 that is fired at the window at 50fps (34mph).
Brombal USA are now the first company ever to offer thermally broken steel, bronze, stainless steel and corten hurricane and impact rated product. BROMBAL’s EBE series 6' x 9' double door breezed its way through impact and hurricane testing with a DP rating of 65. That means that the units are tested for air, water infiltration and deformation at a wind equivalent of 160mph and any door that size (or less) is certified. Additionally, the 5’ x 12' narrow sightline rectangular mulled fixed units also passed and are now officially impact and hurricane certified. The narrow sightline certification allows the units to be mulled together to encompass larger spans of glass and continue to maintain the hurricane and impact certification.
CoorItalia is proud to offer a range of artisans that work in many mediums. From our stone carvers, to our terra cotta makers to our window and door manufucturers, but none are quite like our own Iron Man. This particular atisan has a passion for wrought iron and his craft has been handed down for 14 generations! Since 1655 this Italian family has kept the art of iron alive. Take that Robert Downey Jr.!
Villi Zanini uses the knowlege of over four centuries to create the most beautiful and custom iron work that I have seen in my many years as an interior designer and architect.
Creating custom work for private residential homes, hotels, yachts, and prestigious buildings all over the world, Villi is passionate about his work. Working with designers and architects who demand the finist quality of craftmanship and reliablity this handcrafted work is at the top it's game.
From gates to balustrades, fire grates to small buildings. Hammering, chiselling, moulding and forming, this man really does play with fire.
Railing in a Private Home
Every detail is carefully thought out and designed to perfection.
So when in search of quality iron, think of CoorItalia and our own Iron Man the one and only Villi Zanini. Not only will you get the finist work availabe, you will be suppried at how competitive the prices can be compaired to the local domestic suppliers, although none can compare in the tradition and in the artistry of this one man and his family.
CoorItalia and Stone
From inside the mountains near Venice Italians have been mining stone for centuries. One of CoorItalia's stone fabircators not only manufactures stone but also has owned the quaries sinced the mid 1800's. From generarion to generation this family has handed down tradition and experience.
The famous Giallo Dorato or commonly called "Vicenza" stone is known for its beauty and versatility. The stone is mined underground so as not to distrub the stunning Italian landscape.
Blocks are taken and stored so there is always stock available to turn into whatever the job calls for. At any one time there is enough material availble to clad a tall mutli-story skyscraper. From slabs, pavers, carved elements, and fireplaces, you name it and they have the capability, and craftsmen to do it. This is just one of our many suppliers.
Clients are able to select material in the color they desire. From the warm golden yellow of "Giallo Dorato" to the creamy "Bianco Avorio" to the sleek greys of the "Grigio Alpini" and "Grigio Argento".
Generations of carvers create masterful works.
Custom Fireplace in Moscow.
Paving and walls.
No matter what your need, CoorItalia can help. From simple floors paving to complicated building elements.
Let CoorItalia help turn your imagination into reality.
The thought of coming up with a holiday greeting card for CoorItalia every December is always a task fraught with danger: In a multicultural country like the USA we must make sure that Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza (and we can't forget Festivus!) are all covered so as to not exclude any one, And when we expand our horizons to include our vendors we include Santa Lucia, Epiphany, etc!
So being Italians we decided to dial the festivities right back to where it all began - Saturnalia, and as sponsors of the Institute of Classical Architecture we could not get more classical than the Roman times.
Saturnalia was a roman cycle of holidays starting today, December 17th. Originally it was supposed to last one day but was so popular that the days kept increasing and ended up lasting until the 25th. During this period presents would be exchanged, partying was widespread, gambling was permitted and it was the one period when societal hierarchies were overturned - the masters of the house had to feed and provide for the slaves and workers. Although officially a religious holiday to venerate the God Saturn it escalated to a period to celebrate more than that. Not so surprisingly the poet Catullus called it the "best of days". Sound Familiar?
For a full background to Saturnalia we refer you to the wikipedia entry.
So we hope you have a fun Saturnalia: time for giving and receiving, treating right those that work with you, and of, perhaps, eating too much over these days...
Be passionate about life… Be passionate about food and wine... Be passionate about stone and terra cotta!
On a recent trip to Italy the CoorItalia team got to see and experience all three! We toured from Siena up to the Vicenza region of Italy. We got to tour stone yards, terra cotta factories, iron makers, window and doors manufacturers and more, and will share these trips in a series of blog entries.
We start with one of the more interesting places we visited: a Terra Cotta maker in the Padova area. This particular company, and family, has been making terra cotta for over 200 years in the same “traditional” way they did back then, and when we say that technology has not sullied their production methods we mean it. There was not a computer in sight!
The heart of the operation is the huge Kiln, housed in a building with a chimney stack visible for miles:
The chimney was actually damaged in an earthquake last spring.
However the journey of a tile begins with the local clay. Behind the kiln is a field of clay some of it reds, some of it a lighter straw color:
In the spring time and early summer the clay is dug, and distributed along the edge of a field. It is then mixed with water to create the working clay and then it is thrown into a mould, the excess is cut off, the mould removed and the tile is then stored and allowed to air dry in the Italian summer sun, in a huge field:
Each one of these rows will allow the tiles to be gently air dried - by the sun in the day, and each night workers lower the wicker "curtains" (in the photo they are rolled up) to protect the tiles from frost and rain. At the end of the summer the tiles are stacked onto pallets for the one firing in the huge kiln.
The pallets are stacked inside the kiln which is a huge oval "racetrack" over 150 ft long:
The walls are 6ft thick and each door is then bricked up and sealed with mud.
In between the pallets wood is stacked in various strategic places along the kiln floor, the stacks are lit and the final door is sealed shut. The workmen then go upstairs to a floor directly above and start pouring coal through small holes in the roof
The firing lasts for days, is monitored by foremen that have done this for generations, and they only fire once a year. The outcome is as unique as Italy itself. The tiles are complex, colorful, multi-dimensional and beautiful!
In the above photo you see two tiles, the one of the right with mixed clay, rather than blended clay. Tiles are rough, brushed or honed according to client preference, each piece is unique, each piece is the product of a tradition that has not changed in centuries, and judging by their lack of technology will not change any time soon. Time and love - the old way of doing stuff.
Here is one of the paterns that is possible with their tiles:
It has been a long journey but we are very proud to announce that our steel and bronze windows and doors now have recieved the NFRC certification and they have been uploaded on the NFRC database of Certified Product Directory.
What does NFRC Certification mean? As we said in the Press release the NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) is a non-profit organization, which administers the only uniform, independent rating and labeling system for the energy performance of windows, doors, skylights, and attachment products. NFRC Certification is a standard against which fenestration products can be compared in terms of energy efficiency.
What it means to the consumer is that there is a single organization (and thus database) that tests windows and doors and verifies what their performance is when it comes to energy conservation. One of the main things they look at is how much heat is transferred through the frame and the glass (known in the trade as U-value). The lower the U-value the more energy efficient the window and door is.
There are many factors that affect the Uvalue of a unit, but it basically comes down to two main factors - the frame and the glass. There are an infinite amount of glazing choices for a home owner, from the simple single pane untreated glass with very high U-value to triple pane IG units (Insulated Glass) with heat mirrors, krypton filled and "low-e" treated surfaces which have very low u-values. Then there is everything in-between. Your best choice between cost and performance is usually a dual pane "low-e" unit that is air filled. You can, for a small price surcharge, add Argon or Krypton to the glass for better performance. Another aspect to consider (and that the NFRC tests) is Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). This measures how much of the sun's rays are converted to heat inside of the room. In this case there is no "good" or "bad" value as in winter you want to heat the house but might not want to do so in the summer. Many "Passive Houses" use SHGC to great advantage to reduce their energy footprint.
When it comes to how the frame affects the u-value of the overall unit it comes as no surprise that traditionally metal windows have always fared poorly compared to their wood and vinyl counterparts, and therefore Steel and Bronze window manufacturers have steered away from certifying their products with the NFRC. But this is where CoorItalia feels there is a big opportunity: Our windows and doors are made with latest technology profiles that are thermally broken. This means that the bronze (or steel) that is outside of the building, is separated from the bronze (or steel) from the inside by a highly insulted rigid material (made of a high density polyurethane resin).
[For more on what is a thermal break click here]
It is thanks to this thermal break that we have industry leading values amongst metal windows and doors opening up a whole new aesthetic option for Architects and Home Owners that want to beauty and durability of bronze and steel without compromising energy efficiency. Furthermore, whereas many other Steel and Bronze window manufacturers will certify one or two units we are certifying casement windows, both inswing and outswing, fixed windows, inswing and outswing French Double doors and single doors and even Lift & Slide doors.
San Francisco Interior Designing firm Nicole Hollis came to us with their inspiration image for the production of a contemporary stone carved sink.
The selected material was Tuscan Silver Travertine.
We rely a lot on the expertise of our masons in Italy. With hundreds of years of experience, passed down from older generations, they need not just judge a stone by what they can see but they also must understand what is going on inside the block, how the veins move, if there are any weak spots.
With a circular sink, and the choice of a travertine that is rich in texture, you ideally want to emphasize the stone characteristics, so the objective was to see if we could find a vein that would circle the drain hole. And this is where we look at our masons to choose not just the right block but where and what direction to cut.
Once the choice is made and the routing machines are set you can only wait as the CNC machines go about their precise and meticulous work
Cutting stone is all about patience and dust. Water is used to keep the router bits from overheating but also to lubricate and keep the stone dust to a minimum. Two sinks were cut, in case one does not have the vein patters we were looking for, or in case cracks or other structural iperfections were to be found.
Once the raw sink is "roughed out" the measurements are checked against the shop drawings. Custom designs require not just overall designs to be precise but also smaller details alike the radius of the curve of the lip. To make sure we had all aspects covered we shipped out the drain hardware to Italy to make sure we had an exact fit.
Once the dimensions are checked the masons will begin the slow work of finishing the sink, This is done strictly by hand with a variety of tools, some electrical but, depending on the job some are still free hand. The finishing can take a person a couple of days to get right.
The final product is exactly what we hoped for - with not just one but two gorgeous veins circling the sink, one at the rim and one near the drain. Silver Travertine is quarried in Tuscany and, despite it's name is not primarily silver. It has wonderful warm beiges throughout with the strong silver/grey veins that give the stone its name.
And now, courtesy of Nicole Hollis, we have a couple of photos of the final install!
Click on Buttons Below to see another project involving a custom made Calacatta Marble Sink.
When it comes to ceiling the vast majority just go safe and paint it white, or might add a medallion to the lone overhead chandelier. However if you are looking for a Mediterranean look the solution is often "terracotta". Traditionally a "poor man's" building material it has now become the poster-boy of the Mediterranean rustic look. It has a lot to like, terracotta is both strong but light, it is a thermal insulator, it is much cheaper than stone, it is very resistant to wear and tear.
The traditional terracotta ceiling looks like this:
They are composed of rectangular tiles (can be any size - 6"x12" and 9"x18" are common) that are rested on the wood beams and then, on top of these are placed the roof tiles. Nowadays the processed is almost reversed. The tiles have lost their structural element to take on a purely decorative one and so they are now fixed with adhesive onto backer board first
The wooden rafters are then fixed later:
One word of warning if you are looking for original antique reclaimed terracotta tiles, be they for your floor (which is very popular) or for a ceiling. Always ask your supplier if the tiles originally were floor or ceiling tiles when they were reclaimed. Floor tiles will be smooth from centuries of feet, but ceiling tiles will usually have a brushed finish because they have been untouched. Also ceiling tiles might have been painted or plastered over by the generations of families that lived in the house, so many will have flecks of paint on them if not properly cleaned. There is no right or wrong - you can use ceiling tiles as floor tiles but you should be aware of what finish you want when you talk to your supplier.
An alternative to give your house (or cellar) that Mediterranean look is to use bricks which, for structural reasons, were always installed "sideways" offering up their short side to view:
It looks expensive but it does not have to be. Since we no longer need to use the whole brick for its structural characteristics we can "slice off" and just use the "end!" Most manufacturers will make what the Italians call "listelli", which are a form of terracotta veneers.
As you can imagine both the materials and the installation on backer board is simplified by the fact that these tend to be much lighter than the full brick.
If you want a twist of the above we had a Designer approach us for a project in Park City where he wanted to do a ceiling using reclaimed roof tiles. Although we proposed using both real reclaimed bricks and listelli he was insistent on wanting to use reclaimed barrel roof tiles that had spent their whole life on the outside. They cut the tiles into strips and used them, making sure to keep the lichen and all the character of the antique roof tile.
Another client had a charming idea for also using the reclaimed roof tiles as your ceiling tiles. They simply left them visible
Of course you cannot use this for inside the house - this was for a porch overhang where code does not require a fire barrier between the inside and outside, but it was a very nice idea and it recalls its original use, In Italy, as a cheaper way to put a roof over non living areas like barns, stables or outhouses.
Metal windows and Doors (be it Aluminum, Steel or Bronze) have a number of advantages over wood – they are stronger (in particular the steel and bronze ones), and because of their structural strength, you can make narrower profiles from them, increasing the amount “glass to frame” ratio. They are also very low maintenance, it won’t rot or require re-sealing and treating. But, as any owner of old steel windows might tell you they also have down sides: the principal one is their energy efficiency. Metal conducts heat (energy) easily and that means that on a hot day a solid metal frame will act like a radiator in your room, and likewise, on a cold day, you will be losing heat outdoors through your frames far more than through the glass. If your room is also humid (a kitchen or bathroom, for example) then many homeowners experience condensation on the windows.
In order to solve this problems window and door manufacturers are introducing an insulating barrier between the inside and outside of the window frame. This barrier is what is called “thermal break’
In this example the white material is high density polyurethane resin but it can be reinforced also with fiberglass, another good insulator. The role of the thermal break is twofold – it must be a very poor heat conductor, blocking heat from moving from inside the house to outside and vice versa. Its other job is structural, inasmuch as it holds the two metal profiles together.
The result is a frame that stands shoulder to shoulder, in energy efficiency terms, with frames made in wood.
However there is another, lesser known advantage of a thermal break – that of sound absorption. Just like metal conducts heat it also conducts sound and just like the insulating material blocks heat from passing it also dampens sound vibrations very effectively making for better sound insulation from outside noise.
This was a highly complex project - the Architectural firm BAR had designed an elliptical cantilevered staircase in wired brushed Portuguese limestone called Alhambra. CoorItalia worked with the architects and General Contractor in the USA first, to come up with the templates for each one of the stairs - treads and risers, and with the laboratory in Italy to come up with the Shop Drawings. These steps were then manufactured in near Carrara, in Italy, assembled in mockups, disassembled and shipped to the job site for final staircase installation.
The end result is spectacular - a true example of the staircase as a lifting focal point in a home. But the triumph was also in taking exacting design and construction requirements (the tolerances for the treads to fit over the cantilevered rods were extremely tight) and making everything just fit perfectly.
For the same project we produced in the same Alhambra limestone, cut to size floor tiles, two fireplaces and a solid sink for the powder room.