International Materials of Design

Tile as Art

When you buy something from an artist, you are buying something more than just an object. You are buying a creation that gave times of joy, frustration and experimentation. You are buying a piece of heart and soul, a small piece of time in someone’s life. These are all things you know and ponder as you contemplate a painted canvas or a beautiful sculpture, but do you have these same thoughts as you look for tile? You should. Just like any other form you would consider art, tile should be put in the same category. Look at tile as an investment and spend wisely as it never saves to compromise on something you don’t love all in an effort to save a few dollars.
Tile is a very general term that can cover anything from mosaics and hand carved stones to hand-painted ceramics and stained glass. Inspiration and traditions from around the world allude to the techniques and motifs found on all these various forms. New and daring designs are constantly evolving and emerging, so next time you are in the market for some new tile, realize that it can be an investment with an artistic outcome.
Where do you even begin with the process of shopping for tile and visiting a showroom? Well believe it or not there is a little homework to be done as the consumer. It is highly effective to spend some time researching ideas and styles online or in design magazines that interest you. Once your homework is done then you have more things to consider. Use this handy check list to help you move in the right direction.
  • Decide if you will be using a professional interior designer for the project
  • Take photos of your space to show my designer and/or showroom sales person
  • Take your set of blue prints and/or any drawings of your space with you to the showroom
  • Decide on a color scheme and take all samples of other materials (ie. fabric, cabinet, counter top, paint swatch) with you to the showroom
  • Decide if your first showroom visit will be a browsing session or if you are ready to have one on one time with a salesperson
  • Decide on a budget
  • Know the square footage of your space
Begin by planning an efficient layout and be able to articulate that when working with a designer or contractor. Think about the overall goal of your bathroom renovation. Maybe it’s that you want an updated look because you are staying in your home and want something beautiful to enjoy for the long-term. Or it’s possible you have decided to sell the house and need a budget-friendly updated design.

Know Your Space

By knowing the actual size of the areas within a bathroom, a budget can quickly be determined, while driving the decisions of the tile selections. All bathrooms are different, so each space can vary to the next. Be prepared to bring those ideas/plans to the showroom.
Consider the most important elements you want in the bathroom. Dissect the space into key elements such as the shower, tub, vanity and toilet areas. Next visualize the vertical and horizontal surfaces such as flooring vs. the walls. Choose wisely by focusing on those key elements when shopping for materials. For instance, if you really want the bathroom to center around the shower, take the time to find the best materials for that area.

Know Your Taste

Showrooms can be overwhelming and just because something might look good in a store doesn’t always mean it will translate into your home. Be willing to edit and eliminate looks to stay on track with your desired design. You can start with a color scheme or specific style and build from there. Perhaps you are restoring an old house and need to stick with a period motif that maintains the integrity of the home. Maybe you want to transform the bathroom into an updated spa retreat. Either way, you need to start somewhere before your initial shopping experience. Impulsive decisions or piecemealing a project can lead to costly decisions and wasted time.

It is no coincidence that the world of fashion and interior design completely overlap and influence each other. Those who care about how they look also care about how they live. Often times fashion designers are inspired by architecture and interior designers are inspired by color and patterns of the fashion world. There are shared design principles that both practices have when creating furnishings in a space or an ensemble of clothing: determining a focal point, creating the silhouette, balancing proportion and details. Another shared principle would be to invest in a quality piece such as a nicely tailored suit or in a quality piece for your home. There’s always a connection between materials and the story.
Heavy influence of the textile world trickles down into the niche industries, like tile. If you’ve seen it trending on the runway chances are it is coming soon to a tile near you. One of our favorite vendors just came out with a new line that was directly inspired by the fashion world; you can read their excerpt and check out the collection here:
Here are current and classic examples from this year’s runway:

What Makes us Different

The tile industry is ever-changing and we take tremendous pride in staying true to what brought our showroom to Kansas City dating back to the late 1970’s. The ability to bring handmade ceramic tiles made by artisans is a tried and true art form that cannot be duplicated by machines in big factories. The process that is required to make ceramic tiles is not unlike that of a bakery. Each piece is molded, glazed and baked in a kiln until it reaches completion. Based out of Portland, Oregon, Pratt and Larson is one the oldest, finest ceramic companies that we’ve come to know and love over the years and we are proud to be one of their dealers. If you have ever wondered why it takes so long for a custom order and why these tiles are more expensive than most, we share these videos below, provided by Pratt and Larson.
Please click on our collections page for more information on the custom ceramic companies we represent.

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