Subway tile conquers world

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Trending: Subway tiles are on course for world bathroom domination. Photo: Surface Gallery. Design: TomMarkHenry.

Trending: Subway tiles are on course for world bathroom domination. Photo: Surface Gallery. Design: TomMarkHenry.

Subway stations aren’t a very sexy place to spend a lot of time. And yet, the tiles that adorn the subway walls are the hottest thing in bathroom design today.

Designed for the New York subway in the early 1900s, the iconic 75mm x 150mm tile soon adorned the walls of stations all over the planet, from Paris to London.

No doubt the subway tile’s original benefits – durability, low maintenance, and reflectiveness – are as relevant today as they were 113 years ago. Which might explain why interior designers such as Greg Natale are still specifying them.

“They are such a classic look, we were using them 15 years ago,” says Natale. “Nowadays we are all doing bathrooms that are a bit more traditional and a bit more layered and the subway tile really suits that,” he said.

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Natale says the next big thing will be square subway tiles. Adrian Zipevski, associate director Surface Gallery agrees that square subway tiles (50mm x 50mm) are going to be very popular, with some people steering away from the traditional subway size, and even colour.

“The original subway tile is gloss white, but now we are seeing them in many different colours, even a matt finish,” he said. “You can lay subway tiles from a herringbone pattern, to a basketweave, or vertical offset.” 

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