If there’s one thing that rubs architects the wrong way, it’s a material that “pretends” to be something else. We’re not as fervent about this position, but we generally share this belief. For example, we give two thumbs down to the new ceramic tiles that look like wood, but we do like ceramic tile that look like real stone (well, some of them). This new Bluestone Porcelain Stone from Crossville is a good example. Inspired by the real thing, the product features earthen tones and enhanced by fossil-like impressions. It even has the pearlescent appearance of embedded shells. It comes in four colors and a variety of sizes that include mosaics up to large formats such as 24 inches by 24 inches and 12 inches by 24 inches. www.crossvilleinc.com.
Imagine doing a tile installation without having to use thinset or mastic? That’s the promise of Bondera Tile MatSet by Grace Construction Products. The company says it takes the mess and extra costs out of tiling projects because instead of the messy old way you use a double-sided, pressure-sensitive, peel and stick adhesive mat. Press the tile into place, grout, and you’re done. No mixing, no special tools, no waiting for mortar to dry. The company says it’s as effective as using traditional methods like mortar or mastic for tiling but much simpler. It can be used on shower walls, bathtub, and shower surrounds, or kitchen countertops. Who knows if it really works, but it sounds really cool if it does. The product is available at Lowe’s stores and on lowes.com. www.bonderatilematset.com.
If Walker Zanger is the national King of luxury tiles, Artistic Tile is the East Coast version. Though the firm has showrooms in Chicago and San Francisco (and national distributors), Artistic Tile has a huge presence in the Mid-Atlantic, but its selection of stone, ceramic, and glass is world-class. Ambra, for example, is a three-dimensional stone tile that is handcrafted with an undulating pattern using an original finishing technique that gives the tile the appearance of two separate stones. The Ziva Collection, which is inspired by nature and ethnicity, is handcarved in India out of Bianco Carrara marble and Lake Blue. And the Vetromarmi Collection (shown at the bottom) is made from stone and glass—custom materials also available—and starts at $95 per square foot. www.artistictile.com.
Reports from the tile shows in Spain and Italy say texture is one of the hottest trends in the industry. In the last few years, no company—at least none than we’ve seen—has introduced cooler and more innovative textured products than the Italian producer Mutina Ceramiche. It recently added new textured lines, Phenomenon by Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka and Bas Relief by Mutina (designed by Patricia Urquiola), to a stellar Dechirer line, which, coincidentally, was also designed by Urquiola back in 2008. Where Dechirer is a subtly textured unglazed porcelain tile collection that is reminiscent of concrete, Bas Relief is a wall and floor collection with more depth and deeper textures. The lines are available in various sizes, colors, and patterns. www.mutina.it.
I remember during the housing boom when lofts were springing up like weeds, and developers would often use metal tiles to convey urban hipster cool. Well, the housing market crashed, but metal tile is still a cool way to jazz up a backsplash or a bathroom. (Heck, you can even buy them at The Home Depot, so you know they’re mainstream). This new line from Bellavita Tile shows you how to pull off the metal look in your house without looking like a yutz. The mosaic line comes in stainless steel, bronze, copper, or a blend of the three. Mounted on a mesh backing measuring 12 inches by 12 inches, they come in four formats. www.bellavitatile.com.
Once upon a time, concrete was the ugly gray stuff you walked on (still is, sort of), but then people like Buddy Rhodes Studio, Fu-Tung Cheng, and Soupcan showed us what’s possible. This week we wrote about two ways concrete can be used to make tiles, and today Meld USA is showing us a third. Made with eco-friendly concrete, Krono is a line of accent wall tiles that will blow your house guests away. The eye-catching tiles measure 6 inches by 6 inches, and feature curved edges that you could install in an interlocking pattern or separate. Tiles come in white, gray, black, light blue, and light green. www.theconcretehaus.com.
Admittedly, there are many great ceramic and stone tile suppliers in this country, but you could easily make one stop at a Walker Zanger showroom and get all your needs fulfilled. That’s because the company covers the tile industry like your grandmother’s favorite vintage quilt. You want ultra hip modern? Check. You need Versailles-style froo froo? Sure. How about transitional textured wall tiles in retro looks? Um, yeah! The Studio Moderne Collection by Designer Michael Berman, for example, offers glamour styles such as Hollywood Regency and Art Deco. Offered in ceramic and natural stone tiles as large as 16 inches by 16 inches, the collection comes in 30 designs. On the other hand, if you want a swinging 60s and 70s vibe, pick something from the Vibe Mosaics Collection. Made up of ceramic and porcelain products, the line is highlighted by geometric shapes and colors that defined the era. The collection is available in wall and floor tiles, in three glazes, 10 styles, and nine colors. www.walkerzanger.com.
Earlier this week, we showed you some concrete tiles for those consumers with a traditionalist bent, but Portland Cement Co. satisfies the other end of the spectrum—modernists and those who aren’t afraid to mix it up. The Oregon outfit is no large manufacturer churning out bland mediocre products. Instead, it uses a small-batch, cast-to-order process that yields tiles that have a handmade look and feel. The company offers flat and textured products in a variety of shapes and a variety of sizes for wall and floor. www.portlandcementco.com.
You’d better take the deed to your summer home (or perhaps the title to your ’74 Morgan 4/4) when you head over to Ann Sacks to buy these incredible wall tiles from the company’s collaboration with Blake Studios. Each piece is completely handmade from start to finish. Using no molds, the designer, Natalie Blake, uses the age-old technique of sgraffito, which involves scratching each tile like a piece of fine art. Field tiles measure 11½ inches by 11½ inches and come in 16 colors and three designs. Murals start at $477.49 per square foot. www.annsacks.com.
We’re told that the Italians are kings of the hyper-modern ceramic tile, but one of our sources recently sent us these most interesting decorative products from the Italian company Ceramica Bardelli. Though we’re not really into the whole decorative thing, these got high marks because they’re playful and serious all at the same time. Based on the work of Italian sculptor and engraver Piero Fornasetti, the tiles were created using the technique of hand-applied decalcomania, which results in 13 lines of decorative tiles with various themes. Tiles come in a variety of sizes—from 8 inches by 8 inches to 4 inches by 16 inches—and in matte or glossy finishes. And lest you think these are only for traditional interiors, check out the slick installations below. www.bardelli.it.