Tiling topography: Thinking beyond squares and rectangles.
By Marcus Bentley Managing Director Solus Ceramics.
While there will always be a demand for traditional shaped tiles in architectural projects, there is also a constant thirst for new ideas and innovation in product design.
As the trend for unusual format tiles has developed, particularly in high end bespoke projects and boutique commercial designs, demand for more complex and innovative finishes is now more mainstream than ever, with interest flaring in all sectors.
Architects and designers are now looking for more dynamic shape options in order to create expressive and evocative design schemes that challenge perceptions and defy conventional trends.
What were once exclusive products, unusual shapes are now readily available to all users as manufacturers race to supply a larger variety of more interesting shapes, different sizes and more diverse colour choices.
Complex and interestingly shaped wall tiles are particularly popular and 2019 will see certain designs emerge, challenging formats that have now become commonplace.
A perfect example of this intrepid design style is the Dynamic range, which is an exciting series that brings together some of Solus’ favourite new formats in a single, easy to navigate collection.
Some of the standout shapes include a middle-eastern inspired Alhambra shape, a beautiful art deco fan and an unusual elongated hexagon. In addition to providing a wealth of exciting shapes, the colour choice is equally exquisite, with luxurious metallics and rich electric shades.
And it is not just wall tiles getting the funky shape treatment, in 2019 floor tiles are also being revolutionised with new formats and special décor options.
Wood-effect tiles, in particular, are benefitting from this innovative refinement, and the Sherwood range presents a perfect example of thinking beyond the square and rectangle.
Not only is the design, quality and authenticity of wood-effect porcelain improving year-on-year, but we are also seeing manufacturers bring classic wood effects to the ceramic market.
Sherwood, a sophisticated, scandi-influenced range, offers formats inspired by traditional parquet styles, such as herringbone and chevron. These attractive tile shapes offer a huge amount of creativity and the ability to design elegant, richly storied spaces.
For those reluctant to move away from standards and formats, Solus offer a range of solutions that provide the look of ‘shape’, in the guise of a traditional square or rectangle.
Rockmount, a new concrete-effect porcelain range, includes an especially visually appealing décor called Harlestone, which is a large format rectangle tile decorated with bold geometric shapes and shards. These sharp angled designs artfully evoke the essence of a shaped tile but retain the familiar dimensions of a standard format.
Following this trend and taking inspiration from the iconic style created by the Memphis Group in the early 80s, Solus has launched a new colourful and creative range.
Innovate tastefully captures the playful spirit of the Memphis Group’s style, providing a sense of excitement and adventure in a familiar 200 by 200mm format.
Featuring an array of patterns, including evocative arrows, uniform dots and striking geometric shades, the patterns and bright colours of the Innovate range are perfect for creating a memorable, retro aesthetic.
Opting for an 80s inspired palette, Innovate offers warm and cool variations, that each capture a different mood. The first collection, which is centered on a trendy grey aesthetic, features eight distinctive and bold patterned options. With colours ranging from indigo to charcoal, the tiles are guaranteed to bring any indoor space to life.
Due to the exciting ways that geometric shapes can be laid, hexagonal tiles are also becoming a firm favourite in both commercial and residential projects. Many manufacturers are now producing hexagonal décor options suitable for wall use, but floor tiles are also in demand. Ranges like Solus’ Program range, which has been used in projects such as the Hampton by Hilton hotel, are perfect for commercial floor areas. The new contemporary hotel, which was designed by Falconer Chester Hall Architects (FCH), features hexagon tiles from the Program range in the modern and contemporary lobby area. The tiles flow from bar front to floor creating a distinctive, uninterrupted pattern that perfectly defines the area.
Another new range inspired by the hexagon format is Starlet, a bold mosaic that can be applied to both wall and floor situations. These high-quality, full-bodied porcelain tiles come in a standard matt finish or an evocative textured style. Minimalist and chic, the Starlet range is made up of an array of modern, trendy colours including coral (coincidently, Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2019), turquoise, camouflage green and blush pink.
It doesn’t end with hexagonals. Other popular geometric formats include boomerang shaped arrows, octagons, rhombuses, and diamonds. For adventurous designers, some of these formats can even be mixed and matched to create unique and intricate laying patterns. The Intrigue range, which is a modular geometric series of tiles, has been specially created so that any of the different shapes can be used together seamlessly in the same scheme.
Identifying the demand for unusual shapes is not something that has suddenly entered the consciousness of designers. Solus recognised the increasing appetite for bespoke tiles a number of years ago and has invested in state of the art tile cutting technology in order to fabricate shapes on demand.
With two-advanced water jet cutting machines and a fully operational water recycling plant, Solus is able to create bespoke tiles on a commercial scale. Almost any porcelain range from Solus’ portfolio of over 100,000 products can be cut, meaning that users have an almost endless array of possibilities at their disposal.
For those wanting to use square or rectangle tiles, but are looking for dynamic quality of unique shapes, another emerging trend to look out for is bespoke etching. Solus, working alongside specialist industry partners, now offer bespoke tile designs. These hand-crafted, engraved tiles can be etched with almost any conceivable pattern, logo or simple image.
Users can provide their own design and have the image transformed into a pattern, which can then be etched onto the surface of a tile.
Almost any porcelain tile can be used, with particular success from polished porcelain, speckled and metallic effect tiles. Almost any pattern can be replicated onto the surface of a tile, from stark geometric patterns to more traditional gothic motifs.
For users looking for discreet unusual formats, mosaics patterns might be the way to go. Modern mosaics feature a huge range of interesting shapes from hexagons to triangles, and skilled craftsmen can also create logos, crest and images with mosaic pieces. As well as custom designs, Solus offer a variety of structured patterns that can be personalised with different colours, borders and trims.
Due to popular demand, Solus has launched a new collection of large format tiles, inspired by its most popular ranges. The trendy new collection features five existing ranges, including marble effect, limestone inspired and concrete tiles, which have all introduced new large format options to satisfy the growing demand for larger tiles within commercial spaces due to their ability to create fluid and modern aesthetics.
The new collection includes some of Solus’ most sought after ranges, including Hardline, Chiltern Stone, Pioneer, Majestic and Palace. Utilising a variety of different finishes and colours, with each range providing four large format sizes: 600 by 1,200mm, 1,200 by 1,200mm, 1,200 by 2,400mm, and 1,200 by 2,600mm.
For example, Pioneer is a unique range inspired by traditional European stone and is available in 13 colours, ranging from a sophisticated charcoal grey through to sandy beige.
The luxury Majestic range resembles natural stone, with an elegant and stylish finish. Also available in 13 colours, Majestic is inspired by the stones found in the Greek regions, including shades of beige and an assortment of grey tones.
Hardline is a high-performance and modern concrete range with four colour options available, including a light and airy grey shade, all the way through to a chic dark grey. The structural flexibility and resistance to wear makes this range a practical and durable addition.
Finally, the Chiltern Stone and Palace ranges utilise shades, veins, transparency and texture to produce a tile that authentically replicates the look of marble.
While square and rectangle tiles will always have a place in interior and exterior design, with the great leaps forward in tile production and design, the future is bright for unusual formats and we can only see this appetite growing as we bring more and more imaginative shapes to the market.
For more information, contact Solus.