Hot Tile in the City

The latest and greatest trends in tile, showrooms, and birthdays.

Olivia Boon at Horizon Italian Tile showroom.

Watch out, wallpaper! Your rock-star popularity is under siege from a rather unlikely source: tile. It’s expanding its presence from the bathroom and kitchen and taking center stage in foyers and living rooms. It’s taken a cue from you and become big and bold. Hard surfaces have edged out carpet, and every tile and marble company has cool new offerings.

Walker Zanger is showing three-dimensional designs that mimic textures such as crocodile, shagreen, and stainless steel. Circles and geometric patterns mirror the hip designs from David Hicks that are so popular right now in fabrics, and furniture designer Michael Berman has a new large-scale architectural design collection. Those planking lines are also showing up at Arizona Tile. The rectangular, horizontal patterns channel Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic style with stack stone-glass arranged with irregular grout joints.

I saw an amazing installation by Los Angeles-based decorator Stockton Briggle at Rutherford’s on Lovers Lane. The entire mantel above the fireplace is tiled in Ann Sacks’ Sakura—fiery red and inspired by a Japanese textile exhibit. It is drop-dead stunning in both scale and color. “Clients are creating custom mosaics with our tiles, but very large patterns, not like the traditional intricate weaving of classic mosaic patterns. We are also seeing great interest in metallics, especially three-dimensional tiles for use outside the kitchen and bath,” Ann Sacks manager Pam Garnett says.
John Lane with Renaissance Tile and Bath is also seeing new interpretations of the ancient mosaic craft, with technical advances allowing the incorporation of forged metals and hand-hewn glass tiles with marble and stone. “Because everything is custom, clients can create their own fantasy worlds with tile and make their bathrooms luxurious, personal living spaces,” Lane says.

Rutherford’s mantel tiled in Ann Sacks’ Sakura by Stockton Briggle.

Olivia Boone, our local “princess of tiles,” got into the tile business in an unlikely way. Twelve years ago, Boone, a commercial and hospitality designer, was on a Southwest flight back from Houston working on plans for an upcoming project. In a new slant on the infamous line “Want to see my etchings?” the handsome Italian man sitting next to her asked if she wanted to see his tiles. Cut to Boone and Andrea Melini at the Love Field baggage claim, going through his silk-bound tile catalogue. The rest is history, as she realized the potential of importing Italian tile, especially knowing she would be dealing with the largest tile manufacturer in Italy.

Boone is a petite, feisty woman who enjoys the David and Goliath challenge of competing against local tile giants Daltile and Marazzi. Lesson here? Next time someone wants to chat you up on a short flight—listen. In 1995, she opened her first Horizon Italian Tile showroom specializing in porcelain tile, which has since become the darling of hard surfaces. Don’t confuse porcelain tiles with your grandmother’s delicate little cup and saucer—these tiles are specially fired and practically bulletproof, even though they are so thin (1/8 inch) that they can be laid over existing tile without demolition. They also require very little maintenance. 


In other news…

Vivian Watson.

Happy 40th birthday, Vivian Watson Associates. The grande dame herself has long since gone to the cocktail party in the sky, but her showroom is thriving, thanks to the efforts of owner David Olenzek. Though all around the center lines are shifting and employees changing, Vivian Watson is still selling the original companies, such as Bruce Eicher decorative ironwork, P.E. Guerin hardware, and Auffrance Reproductions. Olenzek was around when I was at John Edward Hughes and George Nash was with Gerald Hargett Associates. Man, could we ever tell some stories from those times. The personalities were bigger than life, competition was fierce, and nothing was considered off limits or politically incorrect. Cocktail hour started after lunch and things quickly progressed to “anything goes.”

Walter Lee Culp is changing the name and logo to Culp Associates. It’s a good move, since Walter Culp is no longer involved. In honor of the change, owner Kelly Hardage is remodeling the front of the showroom and redoing the Clarence House showroom next door. In 1995, when Culp moved to the Design Center, Clarence House owner Robin Roberts wanted to impress the Dallas market with his deep pockets. He spent $2.5 million on that 9,000-square-foot space! There were custom-made skylights, custom-color gray velvet covered all the walls, and low lighting was designed for the space. He even had proprietary fabric wings made. The problem was that, although it was the perfect ambience for a cocktail party, you had to squint to see the fabrics, and all the colors were muddy. So enjoy an enlightening experience at the new Clarence House space. I’m pretty sure Hardage didn’t spend a fraction of that $2.5 million.


photography by Joshua Martin


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