Three Dutch designers formed D-Tile with a mission to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilisations; and to boldly go where no tile has gone before.
The result is D Tile.
Peter van der Jagt, Erik Jan Kwakkel and Arnout Visser’s portfolio of sculptural and versatile tiles have many unusual features, offering designers the possibility of interiors featuring a uniform, uninterrupted tiling system.
The tiles come with integrated fixtures such as cookbook stands, sockets, ceramic hooks, plug holes or drawers. D-Tile provides both construction tiles and functional tiles, merging the designs together in a clean and creative way.
“If it was up to D-Tile;” explains the trio, “the world would be tiled. The problem is that tiles are flat, but the world is not. And, for practical reasons, it is often necessary to mount products onto tiles. That’s why D-Tile designs tiles that bring the dream of a fully tiled world one step closer.”
“We have created a series of functional tiles, integrating functionality in tile itself. This enables us to create grids that aren’t disturbed by a sink or a sink stopper, a tap, a cutting board, a wall socket or a drawer. D-Tile can incorporate any function in a tile and we are open to suggestions to make our range of functional tiles even more versatile … anything that is required to tile the world.”
Fortunately for D-Tile, Alex Wilson, Director of London-based design consultancy, Wilson Holloway, is on the same wavelength. When he came across the D-Tile concept on a design website, he instantly saw the potential for a project he was working on in the UK’s capital.
The fruits of this pioneering collaboration are clearly seen in the cutting-edge interior of S.H.O.T. For these healthy food evangelists, Wilson Holloway has integrated the serving counter, menu screens, customer fridge and kitchen door into one complex and continuous expanse of tiles. The tiles were also used to form the counter tops, a central table, bar stools, external projecting signs, and even the pendant lampshades.
The interior aims to project and reinforce the credentials of this new cold pressed juice bar and healthy food restaurant near St Paul’s. With an Oxford biologist and a London nutritionist behind the menu, S.H.O.T’s creators – former music director and DJ Asad Naqvi and ex city worker Rahil Malik – are determined that the concept’s healthy credentials stand up.
“Although our principal objective is to offer delicious, healthy food to Londoners, we are much more than just a clean eatery. S.H.O.T aims to educate people about nutrition and provide simple and useful health advice that will help customers stay balanced and healthy.”
It’s a bold claim, but one glimpse of the striking S.H.O.T interior will convince even the most sceptical passer-by that this is a food experience out of the ordinary. The overall tiling scheme is based on 147 by 147mm square Snow while tiles with a 3mm grout joint created using Mapei’s Manhatten 200 grout colour. The Snow white tiles are complemented by tiles in four bespoke colours by D-Tile.
The tiles were installed on a foam tile backing board substrate that could be easily shaped and chamfered for the corners. Installation was carried out by D-Tile’s partner company and approved installer D-Tile Construction.
“We love tiles and tile work,” says van der Jagt. “But tile work is, strangely enough, not defined by tiles, but by the joints. And we love this grid, so much so that we do not want to interrupt it … for any reason.”
“Tiles are two dimensional, but the world is not. We have devised a system that enables users to tile three dimensionally. One simply designs a space, object or function in a 150 by 150 by 150mm grid, and the D Tile system allows one to cover it with a blanket of tiles.”
“The system enables the user and designer – whether architect, stylist, contractor, investor, distributor or end user – to design and build a unique, made-to-measure special tile environment. We aim to the tile the world, and believe our system fits the requirements to do so. Not just kitchens or bathrooms, but also espresso machines, car washes, stoves, market places and other areas we haven’t thought of … yet.”
In 2001, when Visser, Kwakkel and van der Jagt first created their concept of 3D functional tiles, they travelled the world to try to find a factory able to produce them. The search proved fruitless, but they didn’t abandon their dream. So, in 2010, they decided to buy a machine and after one year of experimenting, improving and perfecting, they succeeded in their quest. The tiles could be made. So, in 2011, they founded D-Tile … and have not looked back since.
In the past five years the company has received a lot of attention from the design press, garnered a collection of awards and even become part of the collection of several museums. D-Tile has been cited by International Designers Yearbook, The New York Times, Wallpaper, Droog Design, De Architect, Elle, Form, Hauser, Domus, Numero, Ottagono, Detail in Architectuur, Project+ and Frame; among others.
Today, the D-Tile collection consists of flat-, construction-, and function-tiles; all manufactured using frost-resistant stoneware so that the tiles can be used in any location and under all circumstances. And, where white tiles are inappropriate or undesirable, colour tiles can be produced.
Function tiles integrate a function in a tile so that the tile pattern will not be disturbed by a drain plug, shelf or knife magnet. D-Tile’s philosophy is that no function is too crazy to be caught in a tile.
The colour palette of D-Tile is, like all other aspects of the collection, clear, timeless and very Dutch. D-Tile is suitable for grand gestures, or exquisite detailing; large pavilions or individual items of furniture. D-Tile objects can be very intimate and homely, or public or industrial. Outside or inside, on the wall or floor, as a worktop, in public buildings or at home; everything is possible.
As the S.H.O.T interior shows, D-Tile is ideal for areas where hygiene is important, as the tiles are easy to clean and maintain. In combination with special grouting, they can be used to create a waterproof, impermeable surface. The tiles are thick and do not break easily. D-Tile floor tiles also meet stringent anti slip standards, and, as the company points out, any unintentional falls will have much less dramatic consequences thanks to the rounded corners.
D-Tile has created a template for the free design programme, Sketchup, to help potential users to design objects and spaces using D-Tile. The template contains all D-Tile parts, while the company’s design manual shows how to put these parts together. Once the design is created and the dimensions determined, the tiled objects are manufactured; benefitting from the experience gained on a raft of prior projects.
And so, as S.H.O.T wonderfully demonstrates, in D-Tile’s universe, the future can be fully tiled.
This article first appeared in Tile Today, October 2016.