Italian Tile Style: Understated Yet Deeply Luxurious Tile for the Kitchen

CERSAIE 2012

This past week I took a trip to Venice, Italy, and this included a short jaunt to Bologna to check out the huge European tile show, CERSAIE. This show concentrates primarily on the bath, but I came away with serious tile lust for a few designs from the Bouroullec brothers and others, designed for Mutina, a luxury Italian tile company. These tiles rely on texture to balance an understated use of color. Now, these may look a little boring from this vantage point, but click through and step closer...

...see? Texture!

I love understated tile like this. It makes you get up close, and it looks different from different viewpoints. It also emphasizes tile as a concrete, interesting object — not just a smooth printed surface.

Textural tiles like these of course aren't always best suited for high-splatter areas like the backsplash, but a strip of tile can make a great accent behind a shelf or on a side wall in the kitchen.

TOP ROW
• 1 Pico Ronan and Erwan Bourellec for Mutina.
• 2 Pico - This line was released last year.
• 3 Pico - Up close, it's matte and textured, almost like cardboard with dots pressed into it.
• 4 Folded - Raw Edges for Mutina.
• 5 Folded - This tile looks like crumpled paper. Really, really gorgeous, and super hard to communicate in photos. Amazing in person.

BOTTOM ROW
• 6 Phenomenon - Tokujin Yoshioka for Mutina.
• 7 Phenomenon - I've been such a fan of this stuff for a while. It's lovely in person - so textured.
• 8 Phenomenon - Definitely not something for practical areas, but would make the most lovely accent.
• 9 Oversized Tile - from Petraluxe.
• 10 Oversized Tile - Now for something a little different. I really liked these enormous, wall-spanning ceramic tiles from Petraluxe. Think about having a backsplash of just one big tile...

High-end tile is generally best sourced and priced out through a distributor or a kitchen or bath designer (good luck finding easy retail access to these things!).

Related: Classic Design: A Gallery of Subway Tiles in the Kitchen

(Images: Faith Durand)