anthony d’argenzio: la vie en rose

by clé tile | published: Dec 10, 2021

as a design company with a penchant for embracing heritage materials and techniques, we have always looked globally for inspiration, whether that is an artisan tile not yet seen in america or an inspired creator whose ideas feel in line with our own.

one such person: anthony d’argenzio of zio & sons.

this creative designer has a flair for transforming historic ideas and techniques, redesigning them for a modern take on vintage. his restoration projects, including the much-loved (and much-copied) this old hudson, saw d’argenzio breathe new life into old buildings with his embrace of traditional materials. it was this project — and it’s very early embrace of a certain tile — that first caught our eye.

“for the kitchen, where weathered white was used, i wanted to give it soul and not use something that seemed too new, too contemporary,” he said in 2019 of the infinitely instagrammed installation.

what followed that super-shared project was nothing short of kismet in clay form.

our shared love of traditional craft and materials initiated a conversation. moroccan zellige was taking american walls, backsplashes and vestibules by storm, and following his own trip to the north african nation, d’argenzio became even more enamored of the timeless tile and its traditional designs. that conversation led to the exploration of shared ideas, the fruit of which is the zio & sons + clé collection. launched in 2019 (read more here), it quickly became a clé classic and a favorite among homeowners and the design cognoscenti.

now, we’ve refreshed the collection with the addition of a new colorway: vintage rose.

the multi-hyphenate designer (who began his career as a prop stylist) has broadened his horizons, going into large scale interior design, real estate, and lifestyle design with art curation, wallpaper collections, candles, and more. as he completes his latest project – his own home, in new york’s hudson valley (more on that below) – we were tickled pink to catch up with him to talk about the collection, cabin life and what really matters.

let’s talk about the original collection. how did it come about, and what was your motivation?

i’d been a huge fan and client of clé for years, but our working relationship started organically in 2015, when we used the 4×4 weathered white zellige in the kitchen of my original this old hudson property. the rustic kitchen became an instant design phenomenon and it still represents the quintessential zio & sons “look.”

the initial motivation for creating a collection was driven by wanting to incorporate texture and high-quality timeless materials in my designs, and i also wanted to create something unique and memorable. i fell in love with the combination of octagon and bouchon shapes, and it was exactly what i was looking for to complement my design work. the texture and dimensions are perfectly imperfect, for that old-world aesthetic with a modern twist.

after all the time developing and planning the collection, it had to be wildly thrilling to see it in the real world.

yes, over the last few years, it’s been such a joy to see so many beautiful tile installations, from floors to walls, and ceilings to backsplashes. the material has the power to elevate so many styles of design, from ultra modern to traditional and rustic. i’m really pleased with how well-received the collection has been, and to see top designers like joanna gaines using it in their designs. it’s always so surreal for me to see projects come to life using my designs.

we’ve always talked about expanding the collection, and with so many colorways of our zellige to choose from, why choose vintage rose?

i’ve always had a sweet spot for all shades of blush, even very pink. vintage rose has a warm, cozy feel but with a touch of femininity. i strive to achieve that warmth, especially in my most rustic spaces, including my just-finished cabin. the color feels like a great addition because it works beautifully with the original color assortment. to me, it’s the new neutral.

yes, the collection as a whole has always been quite neutral and vintage rose only adds to that. also, the pink feels a bit unexpected, which we love, but also very fresh. but that said, many people have a fear of pink and the perceptions that come with it. how do you personally position the color?

i rarely use bold or dramatic colors in my designs because i tend to get sick of them, and most people know me for my range of neutrals. i’d often rather incorporate a piece of art or props to introduce color. vintage rose is quite subtle and more universal than, say, a hot pink. i think it’s perfect for anyone who craves introducing a touch of color without the regret of going too bold, like me. if a wall of it sounds like too much for you, try using the bouchons on just one accent wall.

because of your success creating and identifying trends early, what are you anticipating seeing in the design world over the next year?

in an instant gratification world, i’m excited to see a shift from trend-focused design to high-quality craftsmanship and heritage-inspired home design enthusiasts.

has the impact of lockdown and the deeper embrace of all things home affected your ideas and creative process when it comes to home design?

lockdown allowed me to focus on what is really important to me, like safety, comfort, and my family. remaining a present father to my two-year-old daughter is my top priority. but in my professional career, i’ve been able to expand my thought and creative processes by attaining confidence and belief in my most unique ideas. i think that’s something that happens with age, and gaining respect for my creations.

well it’s certainly been an interesting time to take on a renovation, especially for your own home. can you talk a little about your cabin project? how do you bring your unique take on modern vintage to something like a rustic cabin?

it was definitely a design challenge. it is a log cabin that was neglected and in poor condition requiring a full restoration. honestly, it was a process that most contractors wouldn’t even touch. but i knew that trusting my desire to bring a sense of history and quality to this project would eventually lead me to a one-of-a-kind end result. i got creative with unique design solutions and incorporated high-quality materials that tie together rustic and modern aesthetics, like the new vintage rose collection. i can’t wait to share more once the renovation is fully complete. we’re almost there!

yes, that’s the beauty of tile; it really can unite disparate aesthetics or ideas and bring a real cohesion. how did you go about choosing the tile for each room? did you build any room specifically around the tile?

i designed around function and flow for our family’s personal needs, which differ from my other projects. after utility came beauty, and i was able to pair several tile assortments throughout. i used such a wide selection of the collection because i knew they would age well with the home. i also used clé’s carrara, a few kinds of thin brick and handmade terracotta, because they all feel so timeless. the tile choices really allowed me to achieve texture, dimension, and visual appeal throughout the home. i added vintage rose in the kitchen and upstairs bath, which was the perfect way to incorporate warmth and a pop of color for that unexpected flair.

we expect anthony’s latest designs to be requested, recreated and replicated in a profusion of pink. look for his cabin unveiling soon, and explore the newly expanded zio & sons + clé collection.