Small format, big splash

Small format, big splash

September 2020

Peter Vann, Director of Ceramique Internationale, looks at the biggest trends in splashbacks today and why brick-shaped tiles are more popular than ever.

Evolving from a practical addition to the kitchen to a bespoke design project, kitchen splashbacks have come a long way from the days of simply protecting a wall from splashes.

The modern-day splashback is a kitchen centrepiece of its own. With designs now incorporating anything from huge porcelain slabs to contemporary grid mosaics and even made-to-order antiqued mirrors, consumers are getting more creative than ever with their splashbacks. Yet, while bespoke projects are on the rise, small-format, brick-shaped tiles are consistently the most popular choice for kitchen splashbacks, offering an easy, affordable and extremely versatile way to create an impact. Thanks to their variety of vivid colours, unique eye-catching textures and distinctive laying patterns, the trend for small-format tiles continues to grow.

Although traditional, the way that these small-format tiles are being used – especially oblong shapes – is changing as they lend themselves to a wide range of creative designs.

It’s all in the laying pattern – the same tile can be used in a multitude of different ways to create feature splashbacks which catch the eye in the often narrow and tucked-away area behind the hob and beneath wall-mounted cabinets. Trending patterns include herringbone or chevron half-bond brick style; stacked brick style or stacked portrait to create a striking and modern focal point.

Another major trend for splashbacks is Zellige – a contemporary take on a charming Moroccan tradition which uses modern kilns to reproduce historic handmade Zellige tiles, featuring irregular edges, glaze variations and lifelike flawed surfaces. Leading Italian manufacturer Marazzi paved the way for this emerging trend with its Lume collection – a range of 60 by 240mm high gloss effect porcelain stoneware tiles available in six tones including Black, Blue, Green, Musk and Greige – whose glossy, non-uniform surfaces reflect the light and introduce a stunning multi-tonality effect to kitchen splashbacks.

Juxtaposing the deep, rich effect of Zellige tiles, the use of brick tiles in a selection of neutral tones is also seeing a resurgence in popularity. Pastel shade variations inspired by nature – including creams, soft turquoises and greys – add a subtle hint of tranquil colour to kitchen environments. The Harewood range – a 100 by 200mm brick-shaped collection by Spanish manufacturer Fabresa – is a perfect example of this. Shades including Cloud, Tallow and Lake introduce a country-house elegance to the kitchen while a rugged, worn edge effect makes the brick tile extremely versatile for splashbacks, creating anything from a homely cottage feel to an industrial look depending on colour choice.

With a growing variety of unique textures, innovative fixing patterns and versatile shade ranges, small-format brick-shaped tiles are anything but boring, so it’s no wonder they still dominate kitchen splashback design. And as production techniques continue to develop, combining high visual impact with the practicality and durability required for splashbacks, we won’t be waving bye-bye to bricks anytime soon!
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