Design Notes Archive

Tile Makes the Room

Tile Makes the Room

More often than not, when designers place a large residential tile order, they’re destined for a kitchen or bathroom or some other equally utilitarian space. But consider for a moment installing a wall of tiles in a room traditionally meant for cozier purposes. It might seem counterintuitive, but their tactility, reflectiveness, and variation in colour, lends depth to a room that paint or wallpaper simply cannot replicate. Just be sure the rest of the room’s furnishings are up to task.

Take the tile-clad living room that architect and designer Hannes Peer shares with No21 Creative Director, Philippe Rinaudo, left. A factory in the 1920s, it was later the Milan studio of painter Emilio Tadini, whose bold colour combinations inspired Peers’ palette. Looking to the 1960s-era blue tiled floor, created by ceramist Bobo Piccoli, Peers added a tiled accent wall that anchors the lofty space with colour. Handmade by Fornace Bernasconi, the new glazed tiles fluctuate between cobalt and indigo, creating a sense of movement. That, along with the addition of marble thresholds and an ornately patterned plaster ceiling, envelope the room in texture. These surfaces are softened with a mix of leather furnishings, shaggy rugs, and warm complementary accent tones. It’s a look that beckons you to dive deeper and you can do just that in Nicolò Castellini Baldissera’s latest book, Inside Milan (Vendome Press).

In another example, designers Luis Laplace and Christophe Comoym used tile to create an elaborate wall installation in the office dining room of BETC, just outside Paris, centreWorking with the creative agency’s co-founder, Mercedes Erra, they designed the room as you would a home. That meant scouring flea markets for antiques and devising a space that felt warm and welcoming—ideal for inspiring imagination. To that end, the tiles’ ribbed design reflects light with a soft, glimmering quality while the deep green glaze is balanced by wood tones and ivory drapes. Crucially, the patina of vintage furniture cuts the sleekness of the glossy ceramic wall. It’s also a reflection of the surrounding area, a rustic tucked-away spot on the banks of the Ourcq canal in Pantin.  

And one cannot forget the avidly tiled London flat of late antiques dealer and designer Peter Twining, right. Perched in an Art Deco mansion block on Willesden Lane, Twining famously lined the walls of every single room with tile. Rich blues in the foyer and kitchen, pearly white in the bathroom, chalky taupe in the living room, and in his bedroom, a spectrum of turquoise field tiles gives way to walls sheathed in tiny creamy mosaics. To temper all this tile, both visually and acoustically, Twining framed out each space with moulding and added paneling on the ceiling. Doors throughout play on the grid motif to maximum effect, featuring lattice work by Thomas Bickerdike that’s fitted with mirrors to help bounce light around, as do the rubber floors. If it’s a look you fancy, you’re in luck—the leasehold is currently on the market for £385K.

Photographs © Guido Taroni, Alice Mesguich, Mark Anthony Fox