White triangles dance across a black backdrop, striped squares march over a shower threshold, and Escheresque cubes bring optical allure to kitchen floors. Black and white always make for a dashing combination, and the pair’s sudden graphic appearance in tile is anything but subtle. Black-and-white tile made a big splash at the recent Cersaie design show in Italy and is now wending its way across kitchens and baths everywhere.
The Current Classic
“The way we’re using it now is mod and contemporary, but it also has historical leanings,” says designer Rande Leaman, whose eponymous firm is in the Los Angeles area. “There was a lot of black-and-white tile in the 1920s and 1930s. It’s a trend that’s come back.” Designer Erica Nicole Illions of Kitchen Design Concepts in Dallas agrees: “The look is a little glam, a little Art Deco.”
Communication is the Key: “For a lot of tile installers, this kind of tile ventures into new territory; it’s not just laying subway in a staggered pattern,” Leaman says. “It’s like putting a puzzle together. As designers, it’s up to us to convey that to them, with drawings and job site visits.” Lathrop adds, “Decide clearly where to start the pattern and take it through on paper so there are no surprises at corners, edges or endpoints when the final install occurs.”