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Agrob Buchtal's ChromaPlural tile collection

[SPONSORED] Colour follows form: Agrob Buchtal’s new range allows for limitless combinations of colour, size and finish

Dutch architect Maurice Nio attaches great importance to colour and tone in his designs, and his proposal for Novoperedelkino metro station in Moscow is a striking example.

Inspired by a glimmer of sunlight behind black clouds, the design’s palette is entirely monochrome, excluding the striking red signage that declares the station’s name.

Both the descent into and emergence out of the station is for Nio not only a functional route but something akin to a spiritual experience.

At street level, curved ‘wing’ concrete pavilions are paved on their underside with black tiles. These openings lead down to an underpass, a low space that appears deceptively large as the result of its undulating ceiling.


Octametric sizes

Paradoxically, the interior becomes lighter as you move deeper, an effect created by a gradual gradation through 10 different shades of grey tiles, ending in a bright white that dramatically marks the platform levels and the ticket hall’s ceiling. This ‘angelic space’ is enhanced by the use of ceiling and floor lighting, that shines onto the glossy tiles and guides users to the platform level; the deepest space is here the brightest, with the white ceiling and white pillars starkly contrasting with the black walls.

Nio’s design concept was achieved entirely through the use of Agrob Buchtal’s ChromaPlural tile system - an example of just one of its almost infinite applications. The system aims to offer the best of both worlds - freedom and structure - with a large selection of colours, modular tile sizes, materials and finishes.

The ChromaPlural collection easily accommodates a huge variety of designs, with tiles in
50 shades of the UniColor scale and 29 sizes, enabling almost one and a half thousand different combinations. The sizes are arranged in two systems, one based on multiples of 12.5cm and the other decimal, ranging from 1 x 1cm to 50 x 100cm. To achieve a gradual effect, Nio used 10x10cm tiles.

There are several sizes that are common multiples and fit into both systems. Moreover, the tiles are available in different materials and finishes: glazed or unglazed, earthenware, stoneware or porcelain stoneware.

The number of possible combinations of different sizes, colours, materials and finishes runs therefore into the millions, but Nio’s design demonstrates what can be achieved with just one colour scale.


Decimal sizes

ChromaPlural’s UniColor palette has been chosen to support spatial effects rather than camouflaging them, dispensing with garish tones and relying instead on graded shades and creating an overall tone instead of a random kaleidoscope.

Size is also hugely important: the effect of finishing a wall with large formats is completely different from the effect of finishing the same wall with the smallest tiles. Even if this wall is only in one or two colours, the dimensions of the tiles have an influence on the ambience, and subtle effects can be achieved through using a combination of sizes. The variety of sizes in ChromaPlural offers plenty of possibilities to generate a finely calibrated effect of how a space or volume is perceived.

ChromaPlural’s UniColor certainly does not exclude colour contrasts where a designer deems them necessary for a project; but fundamentally, it is a system that offers the tools to create a chromatically balanced ambience which does not necessarily need to stand out to be noticed. 

As Nio states, ‘the design of the Novoperedelkino metro station is very “quiet”, but with the same new colour code, you can also make a “loud” design’. This might sound paradoxical, but it is the self-effacing aspect of ChromaPlural’s colours that endows them with a timeless sense of style.

Further Information

To explore the full range visit

Novoperedelkino metro station design by Maurice Nio

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