Over the years, more and more innovative and unique glass tile products continue to enter the market enabling architects and designers to offer customers a wide range of design applications. While these products are still commonly used for kitchen and bathroom backsplashes, the material is also often used for other interesting installations such as outdoor water elements.
Glass tile has the ability to liven and dazzle a space, often serving as a piece of artwork in of itself. The material can be used for a broad variety of applications such as a border or accent to a space, or as full shower wall or floor material. Iridescent glass tile can create a more vibrant aesthetic, while the combination of glass tile with other materials can add texture and a contemporary flair to a design. Glass tile is also a durable material, which makes it ideal for exterior applications.
Combining MaterialsThe combination of complementary materials has become a recent trend as it can add depth and texture to a space. As a result of this growing technique, companies are now offering three-dimensional materials, as well as fusion mosaics, which involves the mixing of stone and glass tile or stone and metal, for example.
“I see a lot of new trends actually, mostly in the combination of materials such as glass mosaics with stone and glass and metal,” said Nancy Jackson of Architectural System, Inc. (ASI), adding that this trend is commonly used for hospitality settings such as spas, restaurants and hotels, as well as column enclosures. “Once glass mosaic becomes an accepted material for a project, and architects and designers are comfortable specifying it, they look to see variations from a typical glass,” Jackson explained, adding that 1-by-1-inch octagon shapes are a common trend on today’s market.
One of the company’s most recent products, Butternut Glass, consists of forest-salvaged butternut wood veneers that are laminated in glass. According to ASI, the material is ideal for lit panel applications and horizontal surfaces such as tabletops. Furthermore, ASI has produced a line called Fusionstone™, which consists of ultra-clear glass that is permanently fused to exotic stone slabs to achieve superior surface protection while retaining and showcasing the beauty of natural stone, reports ASI. According to the company, the Fusionstone™ proprietary process eliminates adhesion lines, and the material appears entirely translucent from edge to edge.
Engineered from glass materials to create a high-density, heat and water-resistant product for floor and countertop surfaces, Crystallized Glass collections are also a hot new line from ASI.
Combining glass tile with other materials such as wood, stone or metal can add interest by giving a space more depth and texture, while also helps to set a specific mood or tone, whether it is calming or bold, elegant or simple, or modern or contemporary.
Decorative GlassAside from traditional glass mosaics, longer, more decorative glass tiles are also a popular way to enhance a space. Backsplashes commonly feature decorative pieces that range in size from 1-by-1-inch pieces to longer rectangular listello pieces, as they serve as an intriguing contrast to granite countertops. Iridescent glass tiles can create a more vibrant aesthetic, while crafted textured pieces can help set a country kitchen setting.
Decorative glass tiles can also be carried into the bathroom for shower stalls and tubs surrounds, as well as walls and floors. These materials not only serve to create a unique setting, but they can also define the user of the bathroom as in the case of decorative tile products created specifically for children’s bathroom spaces.
Residential Interior Designer Gail Green of Green and Company, Inc. believes that decorative and glass tiles are “ingeniously” used to add interest and imagination to a space. “People today want a more decorative look and these materials have become more innovative and there are so many varieties available,” she said. Green has used decorative glass tiles for more unique applications such as drapery valences, fireplace mantels and ceilings. “A lot of people like more unusual tile applications nowadays, and you can be really imaginative in your use of it,” she said. Green also feels that people choose decorative glass tile for accents “because you can get a lot more for your money just by using it as a border instead of covering an entire area.”
A Form of ArtOther artists and designers consider glass material as having the ability to create a central piece of art. For a private residence in San Diego, CA, Kim Emerson of Kim Emerson Mosaics, installed a large abstract mural using a range of materials, including a variety of shapes, sizes and types of glass tile.
“I mixed a lot of material together, including Hakatai tile, porcelain, Quarry tile, iridescent tile, glass bubbles, and so on, to create texture,” said Emerson. “I tried to get it as bumpy and rough as possible to really add dimension to the piece.”
The mural is a freestanding piece located in the backyard of the home. “It is like an outdoor painting,” said Emerson. “Glass has a rich quality that other materials don’t have in terms of shininess. It is also really nice because you can see the color all the way through versus other material like ceramic tile. It gives tile installations more of an artful touch and turns regular tile projects into a work of art just by shear use of the material itself.”
Another example of using glass tile as an art form can be seen throughout the kitchen of a private residence located on Park Avenue in New York City, for which designer Gail Green utilized multi-color iridescent glass tile to create “a jewel box-like atmosphere to show off the owner’s art in a creative aesthetic way.” The glass material was manufactured by Eric Adams and supplied by Ann Sacks.
“The choice of tile was important because it created an interesting and reflective backdrop against the aluminum cabinets,” Green explained, adding that the owner requested a material that was creative, unusual, sophisticated and glassy.
Working with glass allows Green to offer a unique diversity of color, light reflectivity and interest. “The tiles were works of art unto themselves and blended perfectly to the landscape,” she said.
Exterior ApplicationsGlass tile is also a unique, affordable way to liven up a variety of outdoor elements, such as pools, water features and decorative benches, for example. While the material is known for its durability, today’s market also offers glass tile products that can withstand frost and heat, as well as being waterproof and color-safe, allowing for limitless exterior design options.
Maverick Mosaics of Oakton, VA, creates artwork and functional landscape pieces for architects, interior designers and private collectors. The company, owned by Bonnie Fitzgerald, recently produced an ornamental outdoor water fountain comprised of glass tile for the Rockville Town Square in Rockville, MD. For the “Trout Stream” design Maverick used approximately 65 square feet of vitreous glass tile, which was manufactured by Trend of Miami, FL, and distributed by Witsend Mosaics of Wisconsin.
“Glass tile is great for outside because it doesn’t fade and it is a very durable material,” explained Fitzgerald, adding that the material is also affordable. “We chose these particular vitreous tiles because they have a nice delicate look to them and because they are really easy to work with. They come in a 5/8-by-5/8-inch size, but I was able to clip them by hand down to a smaller size.”
Other than water features, Fitzgerald said that mosaic glass tile is popular for other exterior applications, including walls, three-dimensional sculptures and garden benches, as well as for house signs. “Glass tile is also great for exterior areas where people can touch,” she said, adding that since the material is machine made there aren’t any sharp edges. “The material is also ideal for use inside of swimming pools, for walls and elaborate designs on the bottom of the pool. This design concept is very popular in the deep south, especially in Florida.”