Tile has become more decorative than utilitarian, as designers embrace colors and new mediums.
By Camille Furst
With different tile designs coming and going as each season’s trends change, it can be difficult to figure out which one works best for a home. But some designers are creating innovative and artistic designs that will make any space stand out.
The growing tile industry has thousands of interior designers, architects and manufacturers gathering for global conferences. The 2018 Cevisama exhibition held in Spain had a record number of visitors at 90,000, making it clear that tile is trending more than ever. The conference attracted interior designers and manufacturers to witness new developments in tiles, whether ceramic, mosaic or stone.
Luxury designers and manufacturers report that the industry is progressing toward tiles being decorative elements rather than a necessity in the background. Homes throughout the globe are beginning to see the value and artistry in tiles of all different mediums.
New Ravenna is a luxury tile design and manufacturing company specializing in custom-made stone and glass mosaics for high-end homes. One of its featured designers, Caroline Beaupere, reflects, “I think tile used to be more of something clients look at as a necessity, as something for a backsplash for the kitchen,” she considers. “Now it’s getting more into looking [like] an accent, whether that’s as an accent for the bathroom floor or the backsplash of a kitchen.”
One way designers are identifying tiles as accent pieces is through color. Bolder colors are coming back after being less popular in recent years, and taking the place of neutral whites or grays in terms of popularity. While these neutral colors will always be on trend, adding color creates a different, bold look many designers are innovating.
“White and gray seem to be a fundamental standard that’s going to stick with us forever, but people are willing to branch out from just being dedicated to white and gray,” says Lauren Cherkas, the president of retail at Artistic Tile, which boasts locations throughout the United States. “We are seeing a return to color, particularly deep greens and reds.”
Cean Irminger, the creative director at New Ravenna, delightfully agrees. “We are finally seeing bold and saturated hues come back into the palette after a decade of white and gray ruling the roost,” she says. “It is such a breath of fresh air and exciting as a designer to have the full spectrum of color to work with.”
Different mediums are also advancing, with glass and mosaic tiles allowing for more creativity from both the client and the designer. With less of a market for two-dimensional and monochromatic designs, designers are headed toward more organic and vibrant surfaces in mosaics.
Handmade tesserae mosaics, which are single pieces of stone or glass that are combined to make a mosaic, are seeing a resurgence.
“There is an inherent charm and love-ly texture to a hand-dipped mosaic that can connect to the ancient history of the craft while also allowing for real innovation in technique,” explains Irminger of New Ravenna. “I think we are even now seeing a pendulum swing back toward traditional mosaics where the hand and skill of the artisan is in full view.”
Emser Tile is the largest privately held designer and marketer of tile and stone in the United States, with over 70 showrooms and three distribution centers across the nation. Christina Wu, the company’s director of product development, says the industry’s transition allows for a more innovative approach.
“We are able to replicate many sophisticated shapes and patterns, with inspiration taken from nature, architecture, materials and fashion,” she notes. “These advancements have opened a whole new world of possibilities and affords us the opportunity to be even more creative and translate those ideas into our products. They are a labor of love.
”By taking from many points of inspiration, designers and clients are both able to make their tiles come to life. Cherkas of Artistic Tile explains the impact this new progression toward artistic tile can have. “The beauty of what we do … literally makes the backdrop of their lives.”
(Reprinted from "More Than Just A Backsplash", 2019, Prestige Magazine, Fall 2019, pp. 8-11.)