If there’s one trend that’s skyrocketed this decade it’s wood-looks. Undeniable amounts of energy have been deployed throughout the past ten years to produce the most realistic, varied, textured, and creative ceramic interpretations of this building classic – so we’ve decided to take a closer look at how this ingenious creation has gone from strength to strength since 2010.
We start with a design by Tau that was already taking enormous strides towards the abstraction of wood-looks, a style that we have seen most recently in Arcana‘s Oriental Wood series. Deco was inspired by the striking wood grain of zebrano, with angular cuts creating curious and varied patterns across each tile. Few companies took on the wood-look with quite as much vigor, with those adopting the trend sticking to planks of varying lengths, such as Cerim‘s Greenwood range of porcelain tiles designed to mimic oak and inspired by wood pickling and aniline dyes, Serenissima‘s Timber 90 in 150 by 900mm planks, Imola Ceramica‘s thin, glazed porcelain Strobus tiles, or Marazzi‘s pale, flat Treverk planks that still prove popular today.
Although the recreations are impressive, a fine level of detail still separates the tiles from the real-deal. But 2011 saw an increase in their popularity and, thanks to digital ink-jet printing, they are given a new lease of life, offering realistic colours and textures, as well as aged, stained, and bleached effects. The large raft of new ranges include Pamesa‘s Legno, Iris Ceramica‘s E-Wood, Monocibec‘s Ontario, and CIR‘s Taiga.
By 2012 the wood-effect tile craze has a life of its own. An unimaginable amount of new and innovative solutions are being put forward by company after company. One of the favoured wood-look styles is of worn and weathered planks, the rustic look that offers an aged charm. Colorker brings out Natura, a wood-look with a silver finish and handcrafted appeal, Vives produce various wood-look ranges including Sutton, a square format tile with an end-grain effect, and Ergon brings out Wood Talk, a range inspired by salvaged trunks from 90 distinct trees.
By 2013 laminate flooring has been well pushed aside as the go-to for natural material interior imitations. Their longevity and ability to stay pristine for a long while after installation, and their reduced damage from environmental factors enables wood-effect tiles to be used outside, without risk of water damage or discolouration. Their ever-growing popularity ensured the production of even more innovative designs, to be used in place of exterior decking, or for indoor use. Notable designs include Emil Ceramica‘s Millelegni and Aparici‘s painted-wood-effect Sonar.
Wood-looks have been giving and giving, with new trends appearing within the trend itself. Aged and worn planks continue to be a favourite in 2014, with Lea Ceramiche‘s Sunrise and alder-wood-inspired Dakota from Flaviker.
By 2015, herringbone was king with Equipe, Gayafores, Ibero, and Grespania all demonstrating how it could be used inside the home with wood-effect tiles. The increasingly impressive visual imitations of wood coupled with the reliability and durability of tiles meant the popularity of wood-effect tiles only continued to grow, and with it came patchwork effect mixed timber boards, panel style and striped pine effects, such as Aparici’s Sylan, Pamesa’s Ancona, Natucer’s Timber Espiga, and Grespania’s Cava.
In 2016 and 2017 plank format tiles continued to develop as digital printing enabled an acute level of detail in grain patterns and distressed, aged wood. Manufacturers have become more experimental with their wood-look patterns, incorporating them into hexagonal tiles, chevrons, parquet and inlaid flooring designs, and examining possibilities incorporating cross-grains and timber types.
Continuous ink-jet printing enables surface decoration on 3D and textured tiles allowing graining to match up with relief throughout the designs providing an uncanny dupe for natural wood. In the last three years some of the most exciting and creative wood-effect tile designs have been created- from wood-chip-look, to incredible inlaid and mixed-media marvels, to wacky designs and fantstical reliefs. It’s hard to imagine how companies will continue to surpass themselves, but we look forward to the surprise.
A new post by Hanna Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, February 2020.