Digital printing and fabricating advances can now realistically replicate wood, metal, textile, leather, brick and paper in a sustainably made, durable tile form.
“Tile companies have made great strides in suspending my disbelief that these aren’t actual stone, or other real materials,” says New York-based designer Daniel VanHall. “A lot of the really imaginative designs are like theater in tile form; it’s pretty exciting.”
The blending of materials on a single tile makes for interesting floor layouts. Today’s iterations of wood-look tile are almost indistinguishable from the real deal, since realistic hues and textures can be printed onto slab, plank or square tiles.
The tech is also being used to marry disparate materials into cool new versions: pieces of wood paired with slivers of metal, say, or wood embedded in stone. The juxtapositions are intriguing, and easier both to install and walk on than if real wood, real metal and concrete were fused together.
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Antique silks were the inspiration for Florim’s Filati di Rex collection, comprised of floral, jacquard, baroque and geometric patterns drawn from the renowned Italian fabric house Rubelli. Tile designers are also using antique rugs and tapestries as inspiration.
Nancy Epstein of Artistic Tile sees a resurgence in age-old techniques like encaustic tile, where the pattern is made with pigmented cement rather than painted on.
Katie Michael-Battaglia, design director for Nemo Tile and Stone in New York, says another trend builds on a kind of pattern that’s been growing for the past few seasons: flower, leaf and tree motifs, and imitating natural stone.
“Terrazzo is a great example of this; companies are playing with scale and color with almost cartoonish liberties. Manufacturers have started elevating designs to mimic exotic stone like onyx and gemstones. They’ve moved away from just the imitation of classic stone — marbles, limestones and quartzes — and are creating their own mashups, a stone you don’t see in nature.”
Companies are offering marble-look tile in unexpected hues like magenta and green, or with veining in gold or copper. And there are imaginative takes on terrazzo with pink, blue or green backgrounds and exploded, oversize patterns.
Source: Associated Press