It seems only yesterday that the design world and the blogosphere prophesied the now ubiquitous rule of white subway tile. Over the past few years, these shiny 3 × 6 rectangles have popped up everywhere, from the backsplashes of trendy kitchens to the walls of chic hotel bathrooms. These days, however, designers and architects seem to have opted for a completely different form of surface covering: cement encaustic tiles.
Encaustic tiles are characterized by the use of inlaid pigmented clay (instead of a painted surface) and have a long and illustrious history that goes back to the Middle Ages. In particular, cement encaustic tiles became fashionable in the mid-19th century after being exhibited by the Garret & Rivet company at the 1867 Paris Exhibition. Cement encaustic tiles are a long-lasting, durable surface and a wonderful way to add pattern and color to unexpected spots. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite examples of these back-on-trend beauties below.
Blue and white bathroom tile
Blue and white tiles cover every surface of this Long Beach, California bathroom. About apartment therapy.
Black and white kitchen tile
Illusionistic block tiles play out the linear elements in this kitchen designed by architects Egue y seta. About Houzz.
Blue and white cement tile
Shubin + Donaldson continues a tile backsplash on the floor of this Hollywood home.
Black and white bath tile
Architect Steven Whiting used patterned black and white tiles to add softness to the industrial look of this bathroom. Photo by Sharyn Cairns. About Vogue Living.
Black and gold wall tile
A simple pattern of mint green and white triangles adorns this Portuguese cuisine. Designed by Sara Antunes Mário Ferreira Arquitectos, photo by José Campos. About Divisare.
Green cement floor tile
Black and white tiles adorn the floor of the “Alhambra” kitchen by designer Jessica Helgerson.
Moroccan kitchen tile
Mosaics Marti tiles decorate the floor of this luxury Barcelona apartment. Designed by David Kohn.
Retro mosaic tile
Claesson Koivisto Runes “Marrakech” tiles, handcrafted in Morocco.
Blue Moroccan tiles
A house in São Paulo designed by the architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Image via Non Sono Qui.
Colorful mosaic tile
Black and white patterned tiles adorn this Portland, Oregon bathroom. Via the New York Times.
Encaustic Bath Tile
In this Pikcells kitchen, a row of cement tiles acts as a “carpet” under the dining table.
Patterned kitchen tile