Here’s How Vetrazzo is Bringing Recycled Glass To Your Kitchen
Saving the earth has never been so chic
The year is 1996, and Don McPherson, a brilliant glass science student from Berkley, California, doesn’t know he’s on the verge of creating a revolutionary surface material.
While fiddling around with various glass aggregates, particles and cement binding, the PhD student discovered he might be on to something and began to narrow down his formula. As it turns out, the coalescence of those substances creates a colorful, glossy and refined surface akin to marble, but far more striking.
Fast forward a couple of years and McPherson’s happy accident, dubbed Vetrazzo, is being manufactured at the old Ford assembly plant in Richmond, California, and transforming homes along the west coast.
“That location obviously had an ironic, historical significance because Henry Ford is the classic American dream, building something from the ground up,” says Steve Schrenk, Digital Media Director and Design Consultant at Polycor. “When our company, Polycor, acquired Vetrazzo in 2007, we moved all manufacturing out to the Georgia Marble Quarry on the east coast, so it was quite literally a transcontinental journey for all the equipment and manpower.”
All-American standards are something that Polycor, Vetrazzo’s parent company, is proud of maintaining. The Great Georgia Marble Quarry in Tate, Georgia, also happens to be the location in which marble for
the Lincoln Memorial was mined. “Since the Vetrazzo atelier is also in Tate, it’s produced side-by-side with all the marble,” explains Schrenk. “Chips of marble that can’t be utilized get swirled into the product, so you’re putting little pieces of history into your home. It’s a great American Story.”
Containing about 700 pounds of recycled glass in each slab, Vetrazzo is an environmentally friendly product, diverting heaps of waste from land lls that would otherwise take centuries to break down. Bursts of cobalt blue may have been from a Skyy Vodka bottle, while splashes of red could be shards of an old stoplight. Both Vetrazzo’s Residential and Sea and Sand collections have been stealing the spotlight along the Emerald Coast, famous for its incorporation of materials such as wine bottles, architectural glass and even oyster shells.
“We actually have a design called Emerald Coast that has a very unique, sea glass green and Coke bottle color that’s unlike anything else we sell,” Schrenk describes. “That’s mixed with South Carolina oyster shells and marble from Tate’s quarry to give it a subtle translucence that’s really perfect for coastal homes.”
“We’ve definitely been getting more requests, especially with houses on the beach that want to remodel with Vetrazzo,” says Eric Harper, vice president of Solid Design Fabricators Inc. in Pensacola. “It’s beautiful because it reflects the scenery outside. Umbo White, Cubist Clear and Emerald Coast are the colors we do the most of.” But if muted, sandy-white tones aren’t for you, there are bold options that integrate shards from stained glass, prismatic perfume bottles, and even broken dishes to provide that pop of pigment you need.
“Vetrazzo can almost be seen as a piece of jewelry, an artistic statement you want to make in a room,” says Schrenk. “Nowadays people are tiling their bathrooms with ceramics and building open-enclosure showers out of glass. We see people using Vetrazzo as an accent border, or incorporating those glassy blues and greens of the shower into cabinetry. You’ve never been able to do that with a natural stone product before.”
Kitchen counters and islands are another ideal place for Vetrazzo, as its largely glass composition means it won’t leave stains behind. The durable surface is also UV-stable, meaning natural light won’t cause any loss of vibrancy.
Outdoors, Vetrazzo brings seaside vibes to your pool and deck features. Well-tested against the elements, Schrenk has seen people employ Vetrazzo as personalized touches to their Jacuzzis, outdoor cabanas and bars.
“It’s important to remember this is a handmade product, and very artisanal. This isn’t something mass-produced on an assembly line; a lot of care is put into each piece, and it’s going to reflect in your home.”