As a domestic design trend, industrial chic really started to make waves with some fabulous and fashionable loft conversions in New York. It soon spread world-wide, led by up-and-coming ex-commercial areas of cities, such as London’s Shoreditch, Leeds’ Waterside, and Manchester’s Ancoats.
And one surface finish has reigned supreme in this design arena: large format concrete-effect porcelain tiles. Early examples were masculine, hard-edged, and utterly uncompromising. But - alongside trendy cafés and fashion boutiques - these Brutalist tile designs were readily embraced by aspirational urban home owners.
However, as this trend has evolved, softer and subtler concrete-effects have emerged, with lighter colourways, more tactile surfaces, and delicate patterning.
The Benefits of Concrete Effect Tiles
One benefit shared by all concrete-effect porcelain tiles is that they are simple to install onto a variety of backgrounds, and can thus recreate the industrial look without the normal issues associated with poured concrete finishes; such as staining, marking, or undulations in the upper surface.
Looking ahead to 2021 and beyond, it is clear that Brutalist architecture and softer forms of concrete will continue to inspire and energise designers. Look out for everything from XXL panels used as kitchen worktops and exterior cladding, right through to small format concrete-inspired tiles used in a wide variety of domestic applications: particularly in kitchens, bathrooms, and living rooms.
One interesting tile trend – something that burns bright in our own Barbican design - is the pairing of concrete with a contrasting material influence, notably wood or stucco.
These material fusions really bring something new to decoration. In the case of Barbican, where the imprint of wooden shuttering is subtly embedded in the surface, the end result offers flexible neutral colourways, subtle surface patterns, and engaging textures.
In Barbican, the grey variant offers quite a clear, raw, concrete vibe, proving that with today’s ceramic tile tiles it is nearly impossible to distinguish between the source inspiration and the tile facsimile.
The Light option, meanwhile, has a lightness of tone that accommodates a great many different design directions.
Surfaces Bursting With Personality
If the concept of concrete-effect brings to mind sterile, minimalist, grey surfaces without personality, Porcelain Superstore’s Barbican begs to differ.
This design’s surfaces harness the power of the latest-generation digital decoration technology to achieve an impressive aesthetic impact, featuring neutral colours enhanced by shade variations spanning cool and warm tones: a strong, textured, yet discreet character that delivers a perfect setting for important interior design projects.
Inspired by concrete formwork, Barbican is a porcelain stoneware surface capable of giving temporary architecture the charm and solidity of an industrial context. It is also a very practical material; one that simplifies daily maintenance and offers all the advantages of porcelain stoneware in terms of scratch resistance and cleanability.
Barbican’s two neutral shades express the essence and charm of concrete without altering it, while the perfectly flat surface simulates the embossing and cavities typical of concrete with great realism.
In conclusion, cool and contemporary, Porcelain Superstore’s Barbican tiles take the concrete trend to new heights of sophistication. The exposed concrete design gives the tiles a warm personality that is well suited to both city centre apartments and contemporary family homes.
The attention to detail in this Italian-designed tile is pretty incredible; with forty different face designs; each containing specific imprints of the wooden formwork traditionally used when pouring concrete.
The sheer size of the tiles accentuates the sense of space: something that is amplified by the precisely-machined rectified edges. These allow the tiles to be laid with a narrow 2mm grout joint, ensuring a sharp seamless finish that is the perfect balance of minimalist and modern.
Suitable for floor or wall applications, Barbican White tiles are manufactured in porcelain in a 900 by 900mm format. Our Barbican Grey tiles, also Italian porcelain, have a similar matt finish and come in a 600 by 1,200mm. Both variants are 10mm thick.