A metre from the Paris sky – A project by ONIX

The Sun has risen from his slumber. Shall we begin our journey?

Today we would like to invite you to travel with us in a most unique way. We are going on a journey within.

While the Sun is busy tracing a path across the sky, from sunrise to sunset, we find ourselves in a sea of endless activities and events that cause our emotions and energies to ebb and flow.

We move about, from here to there, while the daytime hours bring us moments during which everything seems to be full of light and hope. In these moments our minds are sharp, we are full of energy, and we see everything clearly. But then, there are other moments, ones of shadow that leave us longing for that “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Ups and downs. Light and darkness. This is our day… and once we have made our way through this gradient of emotion and intensity, the Sun rises once again. Always.

The same story takes place in the Paris metro, but in a way never experienced before.

We will tell you all about it below.

Where are we going?

Enjoy the journey, stop and smell the roses. That is what matters.

We are going to get on the Paris Metro at the Charles de Gaulle-Étoile Station. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the tonal changes of the sky and the nuances that call to mind certain moments of the day.

Preparing for our trip

The team at ONIX began 2019 by preparing for one of the most special trips we had made to date.

The team at RATP -Autonomous Parisian Transportation Administration- expressed their desire to work with a European supplier and entrusted us with the creation of a journey through 3000m2 of glass mosaic.

Three key factors went into their decision to place their trust in us: the over two decades of experience ONIX has in the manufacture of glass mosaic (98% recycled glass); the high quality of our production and design processes; the particular characteristics of the material we produce, including ease of cleaning, hygiene, versatility, and zero porosity.

What do we bring with us?

Studio Plastac´s inspiration was brought to reality thanks to the collaboration of graphic artists, design, commercial & production teams together with the guiadance of ARC (RATP´s architecture agency) in order to guarantee customer satisfaction.

Our Lab and R&D teams formulated a great variety of pigments in order to ensure that colors evoqued a smooth & evolving color gradation.

The stages of ONIX’ journey

In order for this chromatic journey to become a reality, at ONIX we had to:

  • Develop a new tessera (tile) format (18x43mm, 6mm thick), requiring a series of preliminary tests in order to define the necessary parameters for the size and thickness of the unfinished tiles.
  • Develop a color range inspired by the sky and the sun; a color scale that revolves around the variation of the tones of the sky, immersing the traveler in the chromatic dynamism of dawn and dusk.

Our development and design team experimented with the proportions of pigments until they achieved the color range that made it possible to execute the color gradients that would transmit the sensations of gradual and enveloping change the work was intended to evoke.

Studio Plastac’s design

  • Create a special format for the tiles used in the project, since it called for a tile format ONIX had not employed before. We adapted the mesh to the new size of the tiles, as well as their ⅓ – ⅔ distribution and the distance between them.
  • Produce tests for a pilot layout in a 25x50mm format, which facilitated the definition of relevant parameters such as a thickness of 6mm and size of 18x43mm for the tiles, and their arrangement in the mesh, among other parameters.
  • Carry out continuous quality control. Quality control is essential to ensuring correct project implementation. Each and every stage of manufacturing was monitored and supervised throughout in order to obtain optimal results and a minimum of errors.
  • Make the Patterns to measure and by hand. This project generates an interesting optical effect in terms of color mixing.

In order to elaborate the mixture of colors that make up each of the gradients for each station, a series of custom sets were prepared.

Each gradient mixes 3 colors, meaning there are 2 color transitions. For example, from white to light blue, and from light blue to dark blue. To achieve this mix of colors, the team of architects designed various drawings to be executed using mosaics in order to achieve a visual gradient effect using only 2 colors.

This visual game makes sense considering the size and arrangement of the tiles once they are installed in the vault of the corridors of the Metro, as you can appreciate in the images.

In isolation, each gradient looks like this:

First stage of the journey, concluded

Since June 2021, after two years of work on this project, commuters at the Charles de Gaulle Etoile-Champs Elysées Metro and RER A Station have been enjoying the short journey they take before they catch the metro. As soon as they enter the station, they are enveloped in this unique chromatic mosaic ambience.

It is hard for us at ONIX to put into words just how grateful we are to have had the opportunity to be part of this project.

As reflected in the cycle of daylight, there have been moments in which the process has been more agile and others in which, due to the complexity of the project, we wondered when we would again see the light. Nonetheless, as we mentioned at the beginning of this article and true to ourselves and to what this project transmits, the Sun does indeed always rise again. And the results could not be brighter.

We cannot wait to start the second leg of this wonderful journey.

We will keep you posted!


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