Five tile trends to watch in 2017: Tile Files - May 2017

By Kristin Coleman

With Coverings behind us and the spring design show circuit upon us, it will be interesting to see how this year’s tile trends fit into the larger context of architecture and design. As companies continue to innovate with new formats, finishes and designs, ceramic tile is proving to be one of the most versatile building materials in the world. 

The following five trends made a splash at this year’s big tile shows and are sure to influence interiors and complement great architecture in the years to come.

OLD IS NEW AGAIN
Retro is a recurring theme in the tile industry, with companies utilizing new production methods to give historic patterns or movements a fresh twist. From the traditional look of majolica (Italian tin-glazed ceramic) and graphic appeal of cement tiles to the elegance of art deco and bold shapes and colors of post-modernism, the phrase “everything old is new again” has never been more relevant. There is a plethora of tiles with metallic shades, herringbone formats and parquet wood-looks that are right at home with the funky and plush décor of the ’70s. Even concrete-look tiles fit into this category with modernists’ notorious love for neutral, monolithic materials.

BLACK & BLUE
Every year, a favorite color rises above the rest. When looking at all of the new product launches this year, two of the most popular colors to emerge are black and blue, which make a powerful, stylish statement, especially when used in tandem. In terms of hues, the blacks tend to be intense, matte and chalky, while the blues are more dusty and sophisticated, after last year’s popular aquamarine color palette. When presented in dual tones or romantic motifs, these colors have the unique ability to create a moody atmosphere. When used in strong graphic patterns, they can enliven a space such as Gio Ponti’s unmistakable blue and white ceramic tiles, which are now being produced by Ceramica Francesco de Maio. And for devotees of Le Corbusier, his preferred shades of ivory black and ultramarine blue are now available in ceramic cladding, thanks to a new project from Gigacer called LCS Ceramics. In addition, companies are expanding their offerings of natural looks to include stunning renditions of marble and terrazzo in various shades of black and blue. 

TEXTURE
Texture is the defining character of this year’s tile collections. Not only does it soften what is an otherwise hard surface, it also creates the perfect complement to the many textile-inspired collections. Trending effects range from subtle micro-textures that create the effect of canvas, linen, carpet and leather to more embellished 3D surfaces that emulate woven fabric, crumpled paper and deep waves. With continuously evolving technologies, ceramic tile companies are able to create ceramic tile in three dimensions that draws the eye and puzzles the mind.

SMOOTH TRANSITIONS
Gone are the days when tile companies designed and marketed single products. They are now giving designers a full suite of options to create a smooth and seamless transition. It first started with offering a single design in a variety of finishes so designers could use the same tile from the foyer, through the house and into the rear garden. While that is still true, companies have added a variety of thicknesses to the mix, from gauged porcelain that can be used to clad any surface including floors, walls and furnishings to porcelain pavers that can be dry laid onto dirt, grass and sand to create the perfect outdoor floor. Patterns are also essential, from mesmerizing motifs to designs that traverse a single tile’s dimensions, making it hard to tell where one tile ends and the other begins. Furthermore, micro mosaics that can clad curved surfaces, large-scale tiles that create the effect of wallpaper, and corner-wrapping tiles are a few additional tools to create a continuous surface.

NEW WOOD
With the public finally hip to the beauty and functionality of wood-look tiles, companies continue to play with the concept in new and interesting ways. Some tiles conjure the feeling of old farmhouses and cottages with stripped paint, scratch marks, and other effects that look handmade. Others take a more modern approach with kaleidoscopic decors, bold patterns, three-dimensional surfaces and even a pop-art interpretation of wood like the new PopJob collection from Mirage. While some specifiers continue to be purists who will not consider a material that emulates another material, the truth remains that wood is a precious, limited resource and wood-look tiles can accomplish things that are impossible-or too expensive-to achieve with the real thing. 

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