Jensen also is seeing a resurgence in color. “In 2013, we’re expanding our color story. I think we’re all ready for color to return to our designs,” he says. “It’s a sign of hopefulness and positivity, and I also believe it’s an indicator of the sophistication of those who are making tile selections. It’s great to create new tile collections for an increasingly design-savvy world.
“There’s no doubt more neutral colors will win out,” Jensen continues, “but we’re seeing increased use of decorative accents, mosaics and patterns. Homeowners who may have only tried a more artistic installation on a kitchen backsplash in the past are now being more adventurous on shower walls or on the entryway floor.”
Lang sees business as usual continuing, with planks in particular. “We do see the demand for larger planks and larger tiles increasing,” he says. “The 3 by 36 and 4 by 36 planks will never go away completely, but we’ve seen demand for planks that are 7, 8 or 9-in. wide as opposed to 3 or 4. Whereas the size of tiles 10 or 15 years ago was trending to 12 by 12, it eventually became 16 by 16 and now we’re seeing demand for larger tiles than that : 18 by 18, 18 by 24 and even 18 by 36.”
Jensen believes large formats are beyond a trend. “I’d say they’re a staple,” he asserts. “Over the years we’ve seen sizes grow from the standard 12 by 12 to 18 by 18 and now we’re accustomed to 24 by 24. Our design sensibilities have evolved to welcome large-format tile even in smaller spaces, and contractors have developed their skills to create beautiful installations that function well and look beautiful.” Crossville offers a program that allows consumers to order custom plank sizes, which enables them to create fun, random patterns such as brick patterns for floors and walls.
Part of the trend to larger sizes goes back to installation convenience, Lang says. “When you’re installing a 3 by 36 plank, obviously you need more individual planks to fill up the square footage. That’s going to take longer than it would take to fill up that same amount of square footage with a 9 by 48 plank. Installation goes faster when you deal with larger pieces. That ties back to what I was saying earlier with not only flooring, but our society in general: Make it easy; make it fast; be in and out and be done. Larger pieces allow you to do that.”
Although the popularity of larger pieces appears to have originated in the commercial sector, Lang sees it migrating to the residential side. “Typically, people take input from three different places: Whatever they see on TV, what they see advertised in national magazines and what they see when they’re out,” he asserts. “They go out to dinner or attend an event and see a floor they like and think it would look good in their living room. By virtue of the larger sizes being installed commercially, that is eventually going to transpose over to the residential side. People subliminally see that as being visually appealing. People also know what technology can do and they’re wanting to become more creative with what they can do in their home and business. Sizing and creativity are becoming much more modern than they historically have been.”
Jensen anticipates rapid change in the industry. “I think we may see even faster evolution of looks and styles in the tile design industry in the next five years, as our technical capabilities advance to meet our design visions,” he says. “We often say to look to today’s runway fashion and even commercial interior design to see what will be coming in the next few years for home fashion. I wouldn’t be surprised if the lead time becomes shorter, as media-watching, design-savvy homeowners become more sophisticated, daring and ready to make bold choices regarding their interior design and décor.”