Designer tiles are new fashion statements in Indian homes

February 10th, 2009 - 1:48 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) As marble prices begin to pinch purses in these times of meltdown, tiles are making deeper inroads into urban homes. And they are getting more designer makeovers to suit market demands.

Sample this: A functional kitchen panelled with rich chocolate and marble-toned Venice tiles - with a panel of Tuscany, a tile that wears a brown polished wooden finish for company.

Or a bath done in the black, grey and green shades of Salzburg, Seville and Ankara tiles.

“I think tiles are the new fashion statements for homes,” said Spanish ceramics designer and tile developer Maria Jose Castillo, who is lending her artistic expertise to the Indian tile-maker, Orient Ceramics and Industries Limited, which unveiled its Europa collection of high-end designer tiles in the capital last week.

Maria recommends tiles in shades of rich brown, beige and earth tones or the icy grey, green and cool blue of the European apartments for the Indian home. The rich and natural colours suit Indian climate and temperaments, she said.

“Marble cannot play with as many colours as tiles. I have done up my kitchen in Spain with 10X10 white, green and black tiles (mostly of Seville and the Bohemia varieties). And it looks smart,” Maria told IANS during a visit to the concept showroom of Orient Tiles at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh.

Marble, said Maria and Madhur Daga, the executive director of Orient Ceramics, was losing its edge to inflation, competitive pricing and changing demands in the real estate industry. It also weighs more and lacks tonal varieties when compared to the new range of fashion tiles in the market.

It’s not that designer tiles are cheap - they can cost anywhere between Rs.150 and Rs.500 a tile, depending on the design and the finish. But marble usually costs more.

Maria, the chief product and solutions designer on the board of Orient Ceramics, has worked with Daga to develop a new range of natural stone, slate and marble finish and embossed tiles targeted at fashionable home-makers, who “have the aspiration, disposable income and the sense of adventure to try out new tile fittings”.

“During my travels in India over the past few months, I have noticed that customer design and taste have evolved,” she said, explaining the high-end nature of the product she designs.

The latest trends in the tile segment in India swing between two extremes, said Maria. Tiles with metallic textures and patterns embossed in gold and silver are hot in high-end luxury homes that prefer an opulent look. Tiles with the natural finish of marble and wood are sought after in apartment blocks and in utility homes.

Maria has created a set of 21 natural tiles drawn from designs across Europe in both matt (rough) and smooth (Lapatto) finish.

Besides, she has also designed at least five gold embossed embroidered tiles that can be used either as wallpapers or panel highlights on the wall.

The tiles, a mixture of ceramic clay and ore of zinc and clay, are kiln-fired and printed on screen in roto-colour laser engraving machines.

Maria, whose forte is design and development, believes in mix and match. “Tiles have to be arranged in combinations of colours and one can also have three-dimensional designs,” she said.

The designer, who started her career in 1990 as a glaze and colour research development specialist at Torrecid, spent the last nine years as chief designer and manager of Blau Estil’s, a boutique design firm in Spain. She has a bachelor’s degree in ceramics from an institute at Castellon in Spain.

Maria has displayed her tiles in various trade shows like Cevisama (Spain), Cersaise (Italy) and Coverings (US). She is currently working on the second Europa collection, which will be unveiled in two months.

“It includes a floral section and integrated wood. But the highlight of the new collection will be a range of brightly coloured tiles in red, green, orange and purple,” she said.

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