The expensive sandstone floor tiles cut from the hills near Florence (Italy) for Apple’s retail stores are apparently no longer on the company’s list of materials for new stores. Instead, Apple’s designers have fitted some new and existing stores with terrazzo-style floors that are less expensive to install and maintain, are just as durable as stone, and allow the architects to size the floor panel sizes so they reinforce the stores’ symmetry. It’s not clear why the floor material is being changed, although one source says the Il Casone quarry in Italy is simply running out of suitable stone. Visually, the color and shading of the new composite floor material is similar to the natural stone product, but it features a more finely-defined texture. Terrazzo is a layered application of stone or other chips, bound with a cementitious or epoxy material. It is prepared and poured in place, and then polished or ground to a level surface. The original Pietra Serena stone was first used at the Ginza retail store in 2003 as part of a interior design refresh that eliminated wood floors. Non-natural stone flooring was tested at the Del Monte (N. Calif.) retail store about two years ago. Then terrazzo flooring was installed at the new Kurfürstendamm (Berlin) store that opened last May. In that installation, the metal expansion joints are located so that the display tables are centered within the floor panel. The surface of the floors is much less uniform, with visible undulations. At least one of the Las Vegas (Nev.) stores has terrazzo floors. Most recently, the Los Gatos (N. Calif.) store was half-closed in June to convert its stone flooring to the new terrazzo material.
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