Of course, obvious choices for mosaics are to create intricately detailed patterns and motifs to add a point of interest to a floor or wall design. These types of applications date back centuries, as they can be found in many historic buildings, such as churches and museums, around the world. And along these lines, mosaic patterns are often used today as borders or insets in kitchen or bathroom backsplashes.
But the latest mosaic collections to hit the market are sparking ideas for new applications.
Nowadays, monochromatic or multiple shades of mosaic tiles are being used to clad entire walls or floor surfaces in residential spaces such as bathrooms and entry foyers. Additionally, they are also being utilized more abundantly in commercial applications - especially in the hospitality sector, where the public areas of hotels, restaurants and spas are becoming more sleek and sultry.
Shiny and muted metallics and shimmering glass pieces - used alone or in combination with other materials - have become a hot commodity. Whether subtly employed as an accent or used lavishly as a focal point, mosaics are ideal for stirring interest and dressing up a space. These tiny pieces have a way to bring movement to all types of applications as well as complementing any design style.
Setting a moodAn example of how mosaics can transform a space to a specific style or environment is seen in Masa restaurant - a Mexican eatery located in Target Plaza in downtown Minneapolis, MN - where “metropolitan sophistication” was the drive behind the design. While the authentic Mexican cuisine stimulates the palates of patrons, the restaurant’s interior design is just as vibrant. And one of the main elements of the upscale eatery is a shimmering “wave” wall adorned with tiny iridescent glass mosaic tile. The glass mosaic pieces were also incorporated into the floor design, further contributing to the unique and elegant character of the dining establishment.
“The existing space was a restaurant that we remodeled,” said Senior Project Architect Michelle Piontek, AIA, of KKE Architects in Minneapolis. “With the existing back kitchen and bar locations to remain unchanged, we worked within strict budget constraints to design a chic, fresh and fashionable upscale Mexican restaurant interior that looks and feels completely different, with virtually no references to its previous tenant.”
The architect collaborated on the project with lead designer Richard D’Amico of D’Amico & Partners, a Minneapolis-based restaurant developer and management company. The design objective was to create an atmosphere that would educate patrons about the rich cultures of Mexico by surrounding them with many of the luscious colors and textures native to the country.
“The wave wall creates a fluid transition element,” said Piontek. “The owner’s idea was to mark the transition from the dining area to the bar through a centrally located vestibule, with a striking element - a tile mosaic that flows from the floor up the wall in one wave-like surface.”
The focal wall is clad in green-colored glass tile from Oceanside Glasstile’s Tessera collection. The 1-by-1-inch pieces, which are a shade called “Morado,” came assembled on 11-3/4” x 11-3/4” mesh tiles. Iridescent grout was used for the installation.
“The iridescent aspect of the glass tile adds to the wave effect,” said the architect. “The wall shimmers and almost moves.”
Piontek explained that the design team worked closely with the client to determine materials and elements used for the interior design. “The client came to us with conceptual images and material samples,” she said. “We worked together to make them work in the space.”
In addition to the wall in the entry, the same Oceanside Glasstile mosaics were employed for the floor design in the dining and bar areas. While 18-by-18-inch white porcelain tiles from Daltile comprise the field, the green-colored glass mosaic tiles form a grid. Additionally, Daltile porcelain tiles measuring 4-by-8 inches create the base.
“The floor pattern was inspired by an exterior landscape image which mimics garden pavers integrated into grass borders,” explained the architect. This same tile pattern is carried into the restrooms, where it is used to create floating countertops.
Complementing the glass tile are colorful custom-made tiles from Mixed-Up Mosaics of New York, NY. “Glass tile was a big part of the design, but we also used tile throughout,” said Piontek, adding that Mixed-Up Mosaics provided an assortment of colors and patterns to select from.
Brightly colored, irregular-shaped mosaic tiles form wainscoting on the walls along the dining area’s perimeter, and are also installed on table tops in the bar area and the host stand at the main entry.
According to Piontek, each element of the restaurant was intentionally selected to harmonize with every other element, resulting in a well-integrated whole that enhances patrons’ dining experience.
Reflecting an environmentFor a residence in Miami, FL, mosaics were employed throughout the interior design - cladding entire walls in many of the home’s bathrooms. As a community by the ocean that is deep in art and culture, the city provided the inspiration for the remodel design.
“I love a contemporary style,” said homeowner Andrea Di Giuseppe, president and chairman of Trend USA in Miami, FL. “This home is in South Beach near the ocean. The colors are reflective of the beach. It’s like a painting.”
Working with Italian architect Alessandro Mendini, who also designed Trend’s company headquarters in Vicenza and Di Giuseppe’s family home in Italy, Di Giuseppe chose colorful mosaic tile from Trend USA’s Lux collection to be used on walls throughout the interior of the condominium.
“We have a good relationship with the architect,” said Di Giuseppe. “He is famous in Italy and around the world. He normally designs all of my houses. When choosing products, I like to leave it to the architect and follow his proposal.”
Di Giuseppe went on to say that he was involved in the color selection. “Basically, I play with the color,” he said. “I like a white base and add color as an accent, that’s a major guideline that drives me. I like color, but not too much. I normally love blue, orange and yellow. For me, those colors fit well with the white base.”
In the powder room, bright cheerful shades of orange, blue, green and lavender were selected for the design. The mosaic pieces were applied as alternating stripes of color on the walls.
For the master bath, Di Giuseppe chose blue mosaic tile - reminiscent of the sea - for the walls. To add a contrast, the interior of the shower is clad with orange mosaics, which can be seen through the glass shower door.
An additional bathroom in the home features a more subdued palette of earth tones. Bands of mosaic tile in two different shades of green, yellow and beige form the shower walls.
“I like mosaics and glass,” said Di Giuseppe. “It produces a three-dimensional effect - not only in color, but it also gives a sensual feel.”
According to the homeowner, the remodeling project was completed about one year ago. “I’m really happy with it,” he said.
Continuing the evolutionWith mosaics becoming such a phenomena in recent years, it seems that their popularity will only continue to grow stronger. No matter what the design style, these tiny tiles can create the desired look. Whether the design calls for shiny, muted, bright or subdued, there is a mosaic collection that meets most objectives.
And the evolving aesthetic quality of mosaics can be attributed to the continual advances in technology, which allow for more options in colors, textures and sizes. With an eye on the market, each year manufacturers are working hard to deliver beautiful, eye-catching products.