Cutting-edge Designers

Creative Edge Completes Landmark Project

By Christine Schrum

Iowa Source - September, 2006

Reprinted with permission from The Iowa Source, copyright 2006

Harri & Annie Aalto

Annie Aalto, Jim Belilove, and Harri Aalto

Annie Aalto, Jim Belilove, and Harri Aalto stand on the marble floor made of over 100,000 pieces - a three-year undertaking for a client in France.

First, there was the design-approval process. Harri Aalto worked closely with the client to create a series of hand drawings to satisfy his vision. Once those were approved, the drawings were painstakingly rendered by hand in pen and ink. At that point, each intricate segment (some, down to an eighth-inch in size) was colored and numbered, and then the entire layout was given to the programming department for use in Cad/Cam, a 2- and 3-D model computer program.

Thereafter, stone-cutting technicians cut out hundreds of thousands of pieces of stone using the company’s 12 waterjet machines, which spray a line of high-pressured water and garnet sand from a tiny nozzle at approximately 20,000 PSI.

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Suppose you were a wealthy Armenian banker living in a palatial home in France and you wanted to cover your entire ground floor with ornate, custom-designed marble flooring. Would you head next door to Italy, a country historically renowned for its exquisite marble and skilled stone carvers? Nah. You’d probably make a phone call to Harri Aalto, Creative Director at Creative Edge, in Fairfield, Iowa.

Within the unassuming blue walls of the 100,000 square foot building in Fairfield’s Industrial Park lies a remarkably cutting-edge (pardon the pun) industry. Creative Edge is the largest and most experienced independent waterjet fabrication and design company in the U.S. Using high-tech computer-controlled waterjets, the company rolls out a wide range of specialized architectural and industrial products each year, serving a vast array of clients in the U.S. and beyond.

Creative Edge’s pioneering waterjet technology has won them an international reputation because they’re able to offer highly cost-competitive design work in just about any medium, from plastic and wood to stone and titanium. Further, their unique technology enables them to cut complex shapes and intricate designs that would otherwise take much longer to create--and be potentially cost-prohibitive.

The company’s client list makes for a pretty impressive Rolodex. They’ve contributed to a number of landmark architectural projects in venues like the O’Hare International Airport and the Kennedy Space Center, and their list of satisfied clients includes Disney, Sea World, Ralph Lauren, Hard Rock Café, and Caesar’s Palace Hotel in Las Vegas, in addition to a host of homeowners.

Which brings us back to the Armenian banker (whose name will be withheld for privacy’s sake). This summer, Creative Edge completed a landmark project contracted by an ambitious homeowner residing in France: the design and fabrication of the entire ground floor of his remodeled palatial home.

“As far as we can tell, it’s the most detailed floor produced in the world today,” said Annie Aalto, daughter of Harri and a lead designer in the half-million dollar project. “That’s why he came to us all the way from France. He couldn’t find anyone in Europe able to tackle it.”

The project entailed the design and fabrication of wall-to-wall flooring in predominantly marble onyx, with a great deal of intricate patterning in traditional French florals and fleurs de lis. Chat with Annie for a while, and you’ll discover it was a process much easier conceived of than executed.