Well, if you’re into concrete, which I know you are, there’s a company in Italy I would like to tell you about. Ideal Work, a new Brickform partner for Europe, is located about an hour’s drive northwest of Venice (that’s Venizia if you’re trying to find the place via road signs), just outside a beautiful town called Castelfranco.
As far as distributors of concrete products go, Ideal Work ranks among the top on Concrete Decor’s scale. Step through their doors and you not only experience the heart and soul of the Italian people, but their passion as well. Yes, Italy is well known for its cuisine, its wine, beautiful people, art and music — but rest assured, they also want to gain a reputation for the best in architectural concrete finishes. As an established product manufacturer and distribution center for European contractors, the company today has its sights on developing a wider distribution network in order to meet the growing demand for decorative concrete products throughout the continent.
I recently flew to Italy for a two-day training workshop held at Ideal Work, where company owners Luca Seminati and Maurizio Pontello showed me their state-of-the-art facility, including a fully stocked warehouse, exquisite showroom and classrooms equipped for PowerPoint presentations and Q & A sessions.
The workshop kicked off with a traditional indoor stamping seminar led by Clark Branum, technical director for Brickform. On hand to assist was Dave Blasdel, a talented Montana-based contractor. While we were waiting for the concrete to set before stamping, Maurizio gave a fascinating demonstration of the company’s vertical overlayment system, called Ideal Wall. The talented Maurizio impressed everyone with his texturing and coloring methods.
When the slab was ready for stamping, Dave moved into action and demonstrated a sequence of stamping techniques. One of his initial challenges was the fact that the forms were not square. To address this challenge, Dave showed how a texture skin could be used to disguise the edge by laying it between the stamp and concrete to keep the grout line from showing up inside the edge of the slab. Following this procedure, the students — from Norway, Sweden, UK, France, Spain, Albania, Holland, etc. — got involved in stamping the inside field and finishing off with some important detailing.
As the day progressed, Clark began a demonstration of Brickform’s latest product offering, enCounter concrete countertop mix. The class not only gained a better understanding of how creative they can be with concrete countertops, but also how different methods would affect finishing techniques, which were presented on day two of the seminar. Clark’s combination of technical expertise and practical experience made a powerful statement on the benefits and practicality of properly installed decorative concrete.
Well, how does one get to taste Italian cuisine and fine wine on a whirlwind tour? You accept a dinner invitation from Ideal Work to enjoy an evening with their gracious staff and a group of contractors whose enthusiasm for decorative concrete is now apparent in the farthest corners of Europe. As one course followed another, the warmth of Italy, its people and atmosphere, were fully revealed.
If you’re going to spend three days in Italy anytime soon, here’s my recommendation, spend four! Then you can tell me how Venizia was.
Stay tuned! Decorative concrete’s “superstar” Bob Harris is slated to conduct a training seminar at Ideal Work in September. Visit www.idealwork.it for more information on their upcoming events.