| Kim Cook |
TILE has a rich and varied history in decor, from Roman floor mosaics to majolica to Delft ceramics to Mexican terracotta.
These styles and more continue to inspire artistry. Many of the newest collections of ceramic and porcelain tile were on display this fall at the five-day Cersaie international exhibition in Bologna, Italy.
Some of the trends:
Across the show, faux finishes ruled. What seemed to be barnwood or other timber planking was actually porcelain. Manufacturers can now produce tile that looks – and even feels – like wood, marble, granite or cement but is thin and lightweight.
The application advantages are obvious: A 20-foot slab of slim porcelain printed to look like stone is a lot easier to make and install than the real thing. It can be wrapped up kitchen islands, walls and even ceilings, and is easily cut to accommodate plugs or faucets.
Advancements in digital printing have taken faux finishes a long way from earlier versions that looked unrealistic and one-dimensional. Now the detail is more precise, the image is embedded deep in the tile, and the surface texture is transformed.
Metallic glazes are also evolving. You’ll see patterns with a subtle brush of coppery glitter, while others have dramatic gold, copper and silver finishes – especially striking on 3-D tiles. Antiquing gives mirrored tiles a mercury-glass quality.
Tile has typically come in standard sizes, squares and rectangles measuring between four inches and 12 inches. But larger versions up to 24 or even 36 inches are now available, and the faux-wood ones resemble planks.
Dwell Patterns has collaborated with Heath Ceramics of Sausalito, California, on a hip-looking collection that incorporates a diamond shape and two different hexagonal ones, available in glossy or matte finishes in a broad colour palette.
At Cersaie, hexagons and triangles small and large were shown in earthy hues like cream, mocha, mud and charcoal. Unica by Target Studio’s Origami collection added subtle textural patterns to tone-on-tone black, white or gray tile in shapes evoking the artistry of Japanese paper folding.
Ragno’s booth offered an intriguing way to use both their Rewind hexagonal tile and Woodplace faux wood; the different tiles married in the middle with a seamlessness that would have been impossible with ordinary tile and real wood.
OLD WORLD AND VINTAGE
Neoclassical and oriental tapestry and lace patterns turned tile into elegant wallpaper in the Onice and Wallpaper collections at the Marazzi booth. The company also showed an oversize vintage floral in a new way, as a ceiling-to-floor accent on an otherwise solid-colour wall, again evoking paper or fabric wallcovering.
Ancient Mediterranean motifs printed on matte-finish tile in faded, organic hues bridged the centuries. Panaria’s Memory collection recalls Provencal paver patterns of the late 1800s. And Tagina’s Terre Nostre collection echoes the pavers of Umbrian medieval villages.
TILE AS ART CANVAS
Ascot has launched Game of Fifteen, a series of tile designs honouring contemporary art.
ABK’s Do Up collection includes an image of a contemporary geisha and tiles printed with faux-spray-painted graffiti a la Banksy.
In a collection called Portland 325, ABK’s Ariana group took inspiration from the walls of an abandoned factory, transforming graffiti into elegant art tiles with iridescent finishes.
Sicis showed the possibilities of mosaics by creating wall panels embedded with butterflies, stars and flowers. The vibrant reds, blues and golds were achieved with minerals like copper and lapis.
Scottish wallpaper studio Timorous Beasties is moving into tile design through the tile studio Cle in Sausalito. Medieval damask motifs are combined with ink-blot patterns to create stylised designs that are hand-lithographed onto limestone and marble tiles. Cle showcases several innovative tile artists in its online shop. (AP)