One of the incidental joys of tiles is the descriptive lexicography of this ancient and revered material. Spanish and Italian tiling terms have an inescapable romance to English ears. Even the warning on tile packaging “Muy Fragile” sounds like a cool jazz band!
The meaning of stracciatella
One of our favourite terms at Porcelain Superstore is Stracciatella. To many, this is a variety of gelato; Bergamo’s famous ice cream featuring irregular shavings of chocolate. The name is also applied to what is better known in the UK as Tutti Frutti.
But around Sassuolo, the Italian tile-manufacturing hub, stracciatella is a type of terrazzo-effect tile: a modern-day surface sensation.
Bang on trend
In 2018 terrazzo-related pins on Pinterest grew 316%, and it remains one of the hottest home trends. It is always exciting when a material moves from one design arena to another, but few would have predicted that a material previously the exclusive preserve of UK supermarkets, would suddenly be cropping up in the coolest British homes, cafes, restaurants, hotels, and offices.
Terrazzo flooring in a Waitrose Supermarket. Very posh! Copyright - John Sturrock
But offering near limitless colour and material options - with glass and metal inclusions as well as the more familiar marble – terrazzo-effects have exploded in popularity. Delivering dazzling displays of speckled colour – subtly remastered to suit modern day taste – these tiles satisfy our desire for authentic artisanal surfaces, while at the same time delivering sophisticated looks and effortless ease of maintenance.
And this is a truly versatile trend. Terrazzo-effect tiles come in XXL formats, like 900 by 900mm, right down to small sizes, such as 200 by 200mm. Some terrazzo-effect designs are fairly neutral, creating the perfect backdrop for vibrant accessories and fabrics; while others are bold design statements in their own right, with bright colours and flamboyant inclusions.
Small tiles with big personality? Must be Tutti Frutti
The appeal of contemporary terrazzo-effect tiles goes well beyond the floor. As well using terrazzo-effect tiles on walls and even table tops, some home decorators have even started experimenting with terrazzo as an abstract pattern, leading to terrazzo-look lamps, cushion covers, kitchenware, and even rugs. The tiles themselves are cropping up as splashbacks, niches and, of course, feature walls. These tiles have even been used as bedroom headboards.
In 2021, fresh new takes on the terrazzo and stracciatella theme are still coming to market, leveraging the creative freedom afforded by digital inkjet decoration, while simultaneously drawing on centuries of design precedent.
We are now seeing bold stracciatella creations with big, bright inclusions, metallic sparkles, mesmeric micro-fleck surfaces, and trencadis-inspired new wave terrazzo forms. These new riffs on a design classic offer inspiration for kitchens, bathrooms, hallways and, of course, inside-out living. This is a super surface for conservatories, terraces, balconies, and beyond.
As today’s TV programmes demonstrate, home owners are embracing up-cycling and repurposing. This may, in part, explain the particular appeal of terrazzo tiles. After all, this form of flooring came about when Venetian mosaic workers in 16th century developed a way to use left-over marble as flooring in their own homes; unintentionally creating a durable and environmentally-friendly flooring material that has truly stood the test of time.
Later, in the 1920s, architects widely specified terrazzo because it was so well aligned to prevailing style of the time, Art Deco. And today’s terrazzo revival owes much to our rediscovered love of this iconic architectural style.
Where to use terrazzo
Today’s porcelain imitations provide designers and home owners with an inexpensive terrazzo fix for floors but, increasingly, also for splashbacks, niches, and feature walls. These tiles are surprisingly affordable and many translate the terrazzo look quite beautifully.
One of the most appealing aspects of using terrazzo-effect tiles in the home is colour versatility. Providing a soft neutral backdrop, the chippings can be used in near limitless colour combinations and the varying sizes make it work for nearly any design style or application.
Terrazzo tiles can be used to create eye-catching feature walls
On bathroom walls, the soft textural pattern creates interest without overwhelming the space. It can also work with contemporary colour palettes, such as varying shades of grey, pink, and black. Alternatively, you can make a real statement with terrazzo-effect tiles by using designs with larger chip sizes, and bolder base tones.
In short, terrazzo is unusually versatile; working well in both contemporary and traditional settings, or in bold or restrained décor schemes. It is particularly suited to modern maximalism: those mix and match material mash ups that have set the interior agenda of late.
One idea that has emerged is the use of terrazzo tiles as a "rug" surrounded by wood-effect porcelain tiles, or industrial-inspired cement-look tiles. Fabulous!
Our terrazzo designs
Porcelain Superstore’s own terrazzo-effect tiles make the most of this creative potential.
The larger chippings in Flecks guarantee stand out style
Let’s start with Flecks: a design that is unashamedly out there. Big, bold, and beautiful, these tiles feature distinctive shards that pack a real design punch and will enliven any space. They are perfect for large, open-plan rooms for an all-over, total-look effect.
Made by one of Italy’s finest factories, these 10mm thick matt tiles come in an impressive 900 by 900mm size. There also offer underfoot safety, boasting an impressive R10 slip-rating.
More muted than Flecks, Tribeca is a high quality designer floor tile
Also Italian made, Tribeca Pearl delivers an achingly on-trend grey-on-grey palette, but still packs oodles of personality. They will make your living room floor a real work of art, reminiscent of a Venetian palazzo.
Tribeca Pearl is the personification of easy-living; an eye-catching look that makes a great backdrop to modern family living. These smooth tiles are also perfect for the bathroom, as they get grippier underfoot when wet. 10mm thick, these 600 by 600mm porcelain tiles can be used on walls or floors.
And size isn't everything!
Our Arlo range shows how a terrazzo look can also rock in smaller tiles: in this case 200 by 200mm.
Arlo Dark - just wow!
In Arlo Dark the vibe is classic retro; with bold white and brown chips set in a darker ground. The small size makes this design truly versatile. They make a striking counterpoint to a modern white bathroom suite or can be used to create and eye-popping entrance to any home. Manufactured in San Marino, 8.5mm thick, and with a matt finish, Arlo is proof-positive that small sizes can still deliver large design impact.
So, interiors with inclusions: well worth investigation!