(ARA) - From exotic animal prints to textures that demand to be touched, the hottest trend in tile is to look like something it's not.
Forget everything you thought you knew about tile designs. Today's tile manufacturers are shattering the stereotypes with vibrant colors, animal prints, metal and wood effects, and dimensional textures.
Traditional floral motifs are being reinvented and are as much in demand as modern motifs and graphic, circular decorations.
"The trend is towards imitating fabrics and patterns already welcomed in design, such as leather, silk, damask and denim, and leopard spots, tiger stripes, alligator and snake skin textures," says Tamara Christian, CEO of National Trade Productions (NTP), the company that manages Coverings, the premier international trade show and conference dedicated exclusively to showcasing the newest in ceramic tile and natural stone.
"Hot motifs include circles, spheres and abstract florals. And textured tile that invites tactile experience is in high favor with designers right now."
Christian predicts hot design trends will include:
The Sincerest Form of Flattery
Today's tile designers are drawing inspiration from other materials, using all the skills at their disposal to create tiles that imitate other well-loved design elements.
Today's tiles can echo the beauty of such diverse materials as fur, denim and leather, natural wood or metals.
While they may look like other, less durable materials, these tiles, because they are ceramic, offer unparalleled strength, flexibility and endurance.
Few materials perform as well on walls, floors or countertops as ceramic tile.
If your idea of tile is a hands-off, smooth, slick surface, think again. Manufacturers have started putting as much touchability as visual appeal into their tile designs.
Grooves and reliefs add visual appeal and turn tile into a fashion statement.
Some draw their inspiration from classic architecture, creating tile with vaults, domes and pyramids.
Others go playful and modern with pentagonal shapes, circles, spheres and pillow shapes.
"The idea is to create a tile that appeals to your sense of touch as much as your sense of sight," says Christian.
It's Hip to Be Circular -- and Colorful
Color is back in interior design. And according to Christian, tile is following this trend, offering designs saturated with color. Warm, neutral tones share the stage with cool-water-inspired hues.
Round motifs are especially hot, from simple circles to more complex spherical designs.
Grout is Great
Grout has gone way beyond its original function as the simple adhesive that held the tile in place. Today, grout can be used as a decorative element to enhance the design message of virtually any tile.
"Homeowners are increasingly demanding products designed to turn their homes into an oasis of relaxation," says Christian.
"The tile industry is meeting the demand with products that add visual and tactile appeal, as well as dollars and cents value, to their homes." Courtesy of ARA Content