The hottest ticket in tiles of late is tiles that don’t look like tiles. Tiles that look like wood are particularly popular, as sustainability becomes more and more of a style influence. And these trendy tiles don’t just look like wood, they feel like wood. At the 2009 edition of Coverings, at Chicago’s McCormick Place in April, it seemed every other booth had at least one mock-wood offering. And then there were the textile lookalikes. And the ceramic faux animal hides. And with each tile that looks like something else, people want to know if it feels like that something else. That’s where things get a little strange.
If you stop and really look around a tile show, it’s kind of hilarious. Think about it: a bunch of designers, architects and media cram into a display of tile and then all, without fail, immediately set upon rubbing the walls, floors and every other tiled surface within reach. Dozens of seemingly normal adults, carefully studying walls, slowly running one hand across the surface, with a glass of champagne in the other. Crouched down, stroking the floor, ducking the heels of the oblivious tile gazers above. I’ve often wondered (particularly while looking around in one of the darker, closed-off booths) how many hits I’d get on Youtube with a video of this. I’d call it Tile Fetish.
Unfortunately, you had to be there to cop a feel. If only I could create a Pat the Bunny version of this show report, but alas, in these pages you can look but you can’t touch. Though you can always scrounge up your own samples to pet.
Onice is a new tile collection featuring Swarovski crystals in the decorative elements. The tiles are created using a patented technique that inserts the crystals directly into the ceramic tile, to invoke a warm, iridescent light. The collection includes wall and floor tiles in a variety of colour choices. www.gardenia.it
Kerapoxy Design is a new two-component decorative expoxy mortar for grout joints. Acid-resistant and ideal for vitreous mosaic, it can also be used as an adhesive. Available in eight colours, it may be mixed with up to 10 per cent by weight of MapeGlitter, metallized coloured glitter, to create particular special effects. www.mapei.com
The Strobus series offers a near-perfect reproduction of wood in a ceramic tile. The five-colour range uses a digital technology called Colour Definition System to replicate the depth, colour and definition of real wood, right down to the individual veins. Available in five colours. www.imolaceramica.it
The XXS collection is a range of ceramic mosaic tiles in Mosa’s most popular colours, Terra Maetricht and Beige & Brown. Designed with a thickness to match the companies other large-size wall and floor tiles, the line includes XXS 90, which is coloured all the way through, allowing tiles to be used around corners. www.mosa.nl
The Rover collection combines the impact resistance and durability of porcelain tile with the warmth of wood. Manufactured in a 15-by-20-centimetre size, even the format brings to mind traditional hand-planed boards. Available in oak, walnut and wenge versions, as well as a variety of colours. www.delconca.com
The Textile collection uses inkjet technology to combine the hardness and durability of porcelain tile with the softness of fabric. This tactile collection features stratified, grid-like and even three-dimensional designs, like Rattan (shown). Floor and wall tiles are included in the collection. www.ragnousa.com
Slimtech exhibits the amazing technological advances that have influenced tile manufacturing in recent years. Through a rolling and compression technique, these 300-by-100-centimetre stoneware porcelain tiles are able to be produced at a 3-millimetre thickness that is still resistant, flexible and easy to install. www.ceramichelea.com
Konick is a new tile from the Kubik collection, which is perfect, particularly in this turquoise colour, for applications in spa areas, around the pool, bathroom or even in a kitchen. Available in 0.8-by-1.3, 0.8-by-19.7 or 0.6-by-39.4-inch formats, Konick is available in a range of solid colours. www.laplatera.es
The Ma Touche collection offers four different hide-inspired textures: Cuir, Peau, Eleph and Croco (shown), each offering different tactile qualities. Each is available in Ivoire, Mou, Tabac and Charbon, in a 24-by-24-inch size, a 2-by-2-inch mosaic (on 12-by-12-inch mesh) or in an 8-by-24-inch strip bar. www.florim.it
Stratus is one of the recent introductions from Burnaby, B.C.’s Interstyle. Decorative prints are fused onto the glass tiles, intended for both floor and wall applications. All patterns are available in 12-by-12 and 16-by-16-inch styles, with three other sizes in select patterns. Custom versions are also available. www.interstyle.ca
Colore is a response to a demand for more tile options for facades, exteriors and other large surface applications. The line includes eight shades with a range from bright colours to neutral tone, adding up to over a thousand possible combinations. Sizes are 40 by 40 and 60 by 60 centimetres. www.tauceramic.net