Tiles over time: From a practical bathroom to a design accessory

A few days ago the International Tile Day took place. You may laugh, but there really is such a day. However, it is mainly celebrated by designers and manufacturers of this favourite material, whose use goes back to ancient times. At that time, the tiles were mainly used in the practical field – in the baths. Nowadays they also serve as a suitable design element in living spaces. The new trend is photo-tiling.

From Egypt to Europe

The history of tile production can be traced back to the oldest cultures. The first ceramic tiles already graced representative rooms and buildings of the Egyptians. At first it was a sun-dried or baked plate on which a blue glaze was applied. Over time, thanks to Arab expansion, this material was transferred to Europe, especially to Italy, where the tiles continued to expand. Proof of this are the factories in Florence, Siena, Faenza and Orvieto. Other mentions can be found in Mesopotamia, Tunisia and the Middle East. One of the most important production centres – the Turkish Iznik, which is known for its tiles with transparent white glaze and blue ornaments, should of course not be forgotten. For centuries, tiles were mainly used to decorate temples and religious buildings.

In Czechoslovakia there were only 15 x 15 cm tiles in the Erika style

Italy and Spain remained in the forefront in the production of tiles and their appearance, and especially after the Second World War these two countries were the ones that set the direction in this area. However, the people of Czechoslovakia had no new trends, mainly because of the political regime at that time. Until 1990, only single-colour tiles were available and only in sizes of 15 to 15 centimeters. But they were also very rare goods. They seemed strict in the room then, and they were not an overly modern fad. They were mainly used for their functionality in housing units. One can also mention the design, which later appeared in most households in several colours. These are tiles named Erika. They were typical of their colourful drops. The post-revolutionary development of business and technology fortunately brought a wider range of colours and new dimensions.

Large format tiles with natural images are in vogue

Today’s trend is large-scale wall and floor tiles. The most common dimension is 60 to 120 centimeters. Thanks to the modernization of production, the sizes are getting bigger and bigger. The exception is that there are no tiles that exceed the ratio of three to one and a half meters. The design trend lies in paving in metal design or in the appearance of onyx stones. Also imitated natural materials such as wood, marble or stone. The fidelity to these images is also provided by the structure itself, which is created using CNC machines. You can create an absolutely real 3D plastic surface. The focus is also on easier maintenance, which also helps to minimize the gaps between tile pieces. This is to be welcomed from a practical point of view, also from an aesthetic point of view, when a single surface is created.

Photo tiles as a modern design element

One of the most modern technologies is the combination of tiles with photographs. Thanks to special technologies, a photo or other image can be printed on one or more tiles, from which a mosaic image of a few square meters can be created. Tiles are not only used in bathrooms, but also in other living spaces as a decorative element. This great innovation is now also also used in the hospitality industry, hotels, office complexes and wellness centers.

Source: Lifee.cz 27 May 2019. You can find the press article here