Nowadays, architects and designers are using mosaics for a range of applications - from floor to wall installations to cost-effective inserts and borders. And, the variety of colors, textures, shapes and sizes available in today’s market enable architects and designers to truly create something unique and reflective to their individual clients’ personalities and hobbies.
Over the past few years, Robert Reid, ASID, with Brooks-Reid Studio of Houston, TX, has been noticing that smaller scale tile is being used a lot more throughout homes. “We are using mosaics on walls, floors and even ceilings of bathrooms; on backsplashes and walls in kitchens; as small details and as the dominant surface,” he said. “The vast array of mosaic tile allows for limitless possibilities.”
Reid truly enjoys working with mosaics because of the diverse styles they can achieve.
“Working with mosaic tile is terrific, as we can create one-of-a-kind custom color blends; mix glazed and glass tiles, and apply it to a variety of surfaces,” said the designer. “Chances are you will find mosaic tile on almost every one of our projects in a typical or non-typical application.”
Creating artworkMosaic tiles can also be considered a form of artwork, as they can add pizzazz and color to an otherwise ordinary space. One example of this can be seen in a 2,500-square-foot residence in Houston, TX, in which Reid and a design team from Brooks-Reid Studio were challenged to turn a mid-century modern, single-story home into a unique, exciting living space. To meet the client’s needs, the designers transformed the guest bathroom into a feature room of the house using red glass mosaic tile as “a three-dimensional ‘sculptural element’ - becoming almost a ‘sheet of textile’ hung on the wall,” said Reid.
The design team selected 75 square feet of 1-by-1-inch red mosaic Tessera tiles from Oceanside Glasstile for the main backsplash of the bathroom. And, for the bathtub surround, a total of 60 square feet of Oyster White 1-by-1-inch glass mosaics from the Daltile collection was employed.
“From the start of the project, our intention was to use some form and configuration of a glass tile, as we wanted the textural element to be prominent and the color to be bold,” said Reid. “Glass tile allowed us to create a beautiful, sculptural plane with an incredible depth, not achievable with a glazed tile.”
According to Reid, the client was looking to create a bathroom that would make a bold, dramatic statement, echoing the rich color palette that can be found elsewhere in the house. “We were given free-reign to develop a design concept that responded to our clients’ sense of style,” said Reid. “Our first schematic design proposal using the bold red glass tile for ‘center-stage’ and the neutral white glass tile for a complementary accent, thrilled the homeowners, and we never strayed from that initial concept.”
“Since the residence was built in the late 1950s and had a poured-in-place terrazzo general floor condition everywhere, except in the bedrooms, we were faced with the challenge of mitigating the recesses remaining in the floor slab once millwork was removed,” said Reid. “Terrazzo is nearly impossible to color-match, so by using a mosaic tile, the installer could form the tile into a curve to meet the existing floor, giving us the opportunity to ‘fill-in’ the slab cavity while creating a fantastic architectural detail at the same time. The installation almost takes on the appearance of a textile sheet ‘rolling down the wall’ to meet the floor - since rectilinear tile is rarely seen in a curved installation. Using a small-scale mosaic glass tile gave us the opportunity to create a three-dimensional textural quality to the wall and a depth that cannot be achieved with a glazed tile.”
Glass MosaicsGlass mosaics are a popular trend often used in wet areas such as luxury pools and spas and bathrooms because of their extremely low water absorption rate. Mosaico Italiano of Pompano Beach, FL, recently introduced a new line of multicolored glass mosaics to provide a more vibrant and playful look than stone and metal tile can offer. “At Mosaico there are no limits to the customization options available to designers,” said Matteo Valcavi, Vice President of Mosaico Italiano. “With glass now being introduced as a new element to our product line, designers are conceptualizing innovative ideas.”
The new line is available in 10 colors such as: aqua, black, blue, bottle green, coral red, glacier white, olive, pistachio, sun and tan. Along with two finishes, tumbled and polished, designers will have the option to choose between polished, tumbled or polished and tumbled mosaic sheets with customizable made to order color blends.
The company also finds that glass’ light reflecting characteristics are ideal in smaller spaces, as well, where wall-to-wall applications have been applied to brighten and open up the spaces.
Color OptionsBright, bold colors are showing up more and more in today’s designs as they can liven up a space, make a room look larger or smaller or set a specific tone for a room. On the other hand, more neutral colors tend to establish a warm, cozy atmosphere and are commonly utilized in the hospitality sector.
“We are seeing the concept of modernism a lot. The combination of Calcutta Gold and gray is coming back very strong and are some of our best selling colors right now,” said Valcavi, adding that more neutral colors seem to be fading out.
TexturesMosaico Italiano also recently launched the Tessutti Collection, which mimics the fabrics of the garment industry. “Because mosaics are so small, we can create patterns similar to the fabrics found on clothing,” Valcavi explained. “The 3/8-inch size is so small that it allows us to play with different patterns to create intricate designs.”
Another popular mosaic trend involves combing materials to add depth and a texturized finish. Companies are now offering three-dimensional mosaics, as well as fusion mosaics, which involves the mixing of stone and glass tile or stone and metal, for example.
Aside from mixing materials, companies are also adding texture by varying the finish of a material. “Our Dimensioni line combines finishes such as polished, tumbled and honed,” said Valcavi. “Once applied and installed, the polish raise stands out against the background of tumbled of honed and creates an optical illusion of sorts.”
Furthermore, adding a variety of shapes and sizes to a space can also create dimension.
Shapes and sizesSmaller mosaic pieces are also popular, as they can be used for borders or decorative ad-ins to a space. Graniti Fiandre is finding that the use of 1-by-1-inch tiles is on the rise in today’s ever-growing market.
The company is finding real strength in its GeoDesign Collection, which is a hybrid form of mosaics. “We are finding a lot of interest in this in lieu of smaller mosaics,” said Jeanne Nichols, the company’s Vice President of Marketing. “Smaller pieces can be integrated with other materials of different shapes and sizes, and waterjets can create really neat designs and shapes in a variety of colors.” Nichols also added that decorative inserts created by waterjets have opened so many more options in design.
“Mosaics created a price point that more people were willing to accept - it became more of a budgeted item used for accents, which really help the overall look and design of projects,” she said.
The company also developed the GeoDiamond Collection, which is a porcelain body tile with metal embellishments throughout. “The line offers really striking colors in reds and yellows for example. The brushed stainless element in the 1-by-1-inch mosaics gives a bright vibrant feel. The material offers things clients look for in bathroom and kitchen materials mostly. Other materials have high maintenance and limitations, where ours is for mostly recreational purposes. Being so aesthetically pleasing, it allows clients to use its own look of vibrant colors in a porcelain body and it offers structural integrity that you need in these types of areas.”
New shapes such as rhomboids, octagons and circles are also being introduced in today’s market. “Companies are getting away from typical 1-by-1-inch and 2-by-2-inch shapes and looking for movement towards something new,” said Nichols. “Market trends are moving towards expanding the definition and perception of mosaics by introducing odder shapes, retro shapes and by using waterjet.”