Chesapeake Home, August/September 2008, by Tracy Mitchell Griggs
Banish beige. Today’s tiles aren’t meant to fade into the background.
Whether applied to shower walls, countertops, backsplashes, or floors, tiles
from such companies as New Ravenna, Ann Sacks, and Villeroy & Boch are
decorative and innovative, which explains why homeowners are willing to make
them the focal point in many rooms. Not only will these tiles lend a bit
of drama to your spaces, experts at the World Floor Covering Association
say that the more color, texture, and range a tile has, the more it hides
dirt, so pretty can also be practical.
Creating color buzz at the 2008 Coverings Trade Show in Orlando, Florida
is a newly launched line of ceramic tiles introduced by MacKenzie-Childs.
The New York company’s new tile offering has been added to their
hand produced, hand-decorated majolica pottery, furniture, and home
furnishings lines created by Finger Lakes artisans since 1983. Designed
to coordinate with their tableware, the 4-inch, 6-inch, and 8-inch
signature designs range from landscapes to checks, tiles, dots, decals,
and seashells. A company representative said the eagerly anticipated
line would be shipped in September 2008.
Everything Old is New Again
“Mosaic tiles are the tiles of the moment,” says Lauren
Ames, of Lauren Ames Interiors in Chestertown, Maryland. “Materials
that include porcelain, glass, or metal can be combined with a range
of shapes to create classical motifs or more contemporary patterns,” says
Ames. New Ravenna Mosaic and Stone, based in Exmore, Virginia, reintroduced
this ancient art form 20 years ago and from its production facility
on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, continues to bring hundreds of fresh,
original designs to the world of stone, tile, and glass artistry in
its border designs, field patterns, and custom mosaic patterns.
Sara Baldwin, New Ravenna’s founder, borrows from nature for
her first signature collection. Called Metamorphosis, the designer
transforms organic patterns and textures into the timeless craft of
mosaic. “This collection is a way to capture the soul of nature’s
imagination, and to invite its tranquility into the home,” says
Baldwin. Patterns include dune, mist, cloud, mirage, and meadow, names
that will inspire you to dress up your rooms with a bit of Mother Nature.
And in another nod to a far distant past, comprehensive stone and
tile company Walker Zanger has just unveiled its Sonja Mosaic Collection.
The collection’s intricate mosaic designs pay homage to those
perfected ruing ancient Roman times. Reinvented to suit modern tastes,
some of the tiles – individually hand-cut by master craftsmen
in Tunisia – are collected from ancient Roman quarries.
Tiles for the Greener Good
Last month, The American Society of Interior Designers and the U.S.
Green Building Council (USGBC) launched the nation’s first green
residential remodeling guidelines. “Consumers overwhelmingly
want greener homes, and the REGREEN Guidelines will help by showing
them how,” says Michelle Moore, senior vice president of the
USGBC. “The REGREEN Guidelines empower people with practical
knowledge about how to green projects ranging from deep energy upgrades
to kitchen and bath renovations.” Many glass and tile manufacturers
have been touting the eco-friendly benefits of natural materials for
You can feel good about buying Oregon-based Aurora Glass Foundry’s
products. The company not only uses 100 percent recycled glass in its
manufacturing process but its profits also assist homeless and low-income
people through emergency services, housing, jobs, training, and other
charitable endeavors. The company’s signature Rosette Blocks
are produced in vivid shades like cobalt blue, amethyst, apricot and
emerald and can be ordered online.
Rockville, Maryland-based Architectural Ceramics, a top tile and stone
distributor in the region, is also going green. Company spokesperson
Dick Clark says that plans are in the works to launch “Eco-Booths” in
each of the company’s five area showrooms. “The booths
will feature eco-friendly products alone with educational support materials
that will define green tile materials, certifications processes, and
present tile that is manufactured in a green, eco-friendly environment,” says
Clark. “A product we’re excited about is IceStone®.
It’s durable [and] made of recycled glass and concrete. Committed
to a sustainable future and produced in a daylight factory in New York,
IceStone® also manufactures green countertops by recycling glass
from landfills. It’s a modern look offered in 27 colors.”
Sandhill Industries also manufactures wall and floor tile from 100
percent recycled glass. Compared to many of the ceramic tiles in the
market, each Sandhill Industries tile uses on average less than one-half
of the energy to produce, and the Idaho-based company has been recognized
with an EPA Evergreen Award for eco-friendly environmental practices.
The company’s product line includes border, field tiles, and
mosaic blends. Fans of the Art Deco era will appreciate the company’s
three dimensional and smooth large-scale tile designs in lotus, fleur
de lis, and window checkerboard patterns.
Walker Zanger’s new Sobu Collection also puts a green spin on
tile design. Crafted from renewable bamboo, it’s an alternative
for kitchen backsplashes or home spas, and is available in multiple
mosaic patterns: straight, basketweave, herringbone, and random planking,
all of which showcase the material’s delicate veining, and subtle
variations of texture and hue. Three colors are available – gold,
sable or espresso – all in smooth, matte finishes.
Lights, Camera, Action
Sara Baldwin has teamed up with Ann Sacks and
recently launched Beau Monde, a collection that recalls the timeless
glamour of Old Hollywood. The patterns are named for icons of silver
screen like “Audrey,” “Carey,” and “Ingrid,” inspiring
consumers to add a bit of drama to their homes. “The visual inspiration
is all about connections: chains, links, stitches, and networks using
Hollywood Regency style graphics,” says Baldwin. Using a style
inspired by the ancient mosaic art for of Pietre Dura, the collection
creates elaborate imagery using exquisitely cut and finely fitted stones
that present a fresh and updated interpretation.
Inspired by old time glamour, but updating it with 21st century technology,
designers at Villeroy & Boch have created an innovative tile that
features a build-in LED light source. These eye-catching tiles require
no electronic installation, have enough power to illuminate your spaces
for years and require zero maintenance.
Also drawing inspiration from the past, Michigan-based Motawi Tileworks
has adapted the original designs of Frank Lloyd Wright for a new collection
called the Frank Lloyd Wright Collection® Art Tiles. The tile line
is a collaboration between the company and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
and is officially licensed. The handcrafted pieces are notched on the
back for wall hangings, with some pieces framed in oak. Tiles are applicable
for any interior application and some exterior uses.
Bringing it Home
What began as practical and durable way to
add strength and water resistance to floors, walls and counter, and
other surfaces has evolved – creative
and talented designers are turning yesterday’s functional flooring
into today’s sumptuous surfaces. Tile manufacturers have infused
their products with bold colors and textures derived from nature, unleashing
a new outlet for design creativity in the home.