Designers and homeowners alike are always looking for fresh ideas to add the “wow” factor to their designs. As a result, tile manufacturers continually raise the bar for the development of new collections in ceramic, porcelain, glass and metal tile. And while strength and durability usually are a priority when choosing a materials palette, aesthetics also come heavily into play during the selection process. For this reason, tile collections hitting the market today are sophisticated and stylish - inspiring innovative design applications.
One area of tile production that continues to evolve is metal tile. Metallic finishes are considered to be chic and elegant, and are ideal as an accent material. Pairing decorative metal trim pieces with a field of porcelain or natural stone is a subtle way to stir up a design. Whether muted or polished, metallic pieces can accessorize any interior space.
Moreover, metal tile lines are being presented as bigger and bolder. Many of the metallic collections are now available in larger formats and muted textures - making them ideal for flooring in large commercial applications as well as contemporary-style living spaces.
“We are seeing metal tile being used in a multitude of applications - from murals to wall art and sculptures to lighting fixtures to decorative tiles - in both high-end residential and commercial designs,” said Fritz Keck, Managing Director of Metaltec Innovations in Irwin, PA, adding that he has definitely witnessed a growing popularity for metal tile in recent years.
“We are pushing design and manufacturing boundaries to a new level to create a finished product that is truly a fusion of creative genius and technological know-how,” he said. “Using our sophisticated 3-D direct metal printing process, our artists are able to produce fully functional metalwork projects from CAD drawing in a matter of days, instead of weeks or months. Each piece is built in layers from metal power, allowing artists the flexibility to create wonderfully complex geometric shapes and patterns that would be impossible to duplicate with traditional machining methods.”
And because the patterns and textures on the metal tiles are almost countless, they can really be used to devise truly unique designs.
Replicating the qualities of stoneAnother area where tile manufacturers have excelled is in the processing of stone-look tiles. Each year, new lines are introduced, and they appear to be more and more authentic. While the beauty of natural stone cannot be questioned, and the material has been used in designs for centuries, there are some consumers who worry if it will stand up in certain applications such as wet and high-trafficked areas. Stone-look tiles provide a perfect solution for those who desire the rich characteristics of stone without the maintenance concerns.
The beauty of natural stone lies in its random veining and varying color. Because the material is extracted from the earth, each piece of stone possesses its own unique traits that cannot be duplicated. As a result, many manufacturers use an advanced processing method to achieve a high-quality stone-look porcelain tile.
As long as tile manufacturers continue to invest in research and development, each year consumers will be “wowed” with an increase in the innovation of metal and stone-look tile collections as well as many others such as glass and decorative porcelain and ceramic pieces. Advancement in technology remains the key to producing new trends in tile and influencing design.