As we have discussed in past issues of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design, consumers have become quite savvy in their tastes. Homeowners are selecting granite for their kitchen countertops and high-end products such as glass tile mosaics, porcelain or stone to be used for floors and walls throughout their living spaces. And to keep up with this demand, manufacturers of stone and tile collections are dedicating a significant amount of time to research and development.

In this issue of the magazine, some of the latest product lines on today’s market are showcased in the feature about trends in stone and tile, which begins on page 20. While some of the products are new, other examples shown of current trends are actually materials that have been around for years but are being used in new ways. For example, white marble - such as the material quarried in Carrara, Italy, and used by Michelangelo - is being seen more and more as the material of choice for countertops and vanities. And although marble has been used for surfaces in Europe for centuries, this has not always been the case in the U.S.

This is also true outside the residential arena. When designers and owners of commercial spaces are choosing a materials palette, they keep the tastes of their patrons and occupants in mind. And since consumers are more sophisticated these days, it is essential that the designs of offices, retail spaces and hospitality establishments reflect this level of quality.

Of course, function and durability are still concerns when designing high-trafficked commercial spaces, but modern technology now allows for practicality as well as beauty. For example, porcelain stone-look tiles create an elegant look, while also providing the strength needed to withstand wear and tear.

When you think about it, the evolution of stone and tile production boils down to supply and demand. As long as designers and consumers continue to seek high-end products with unique colors and finishes, manufacturers will continue to produce innovative product lines - resulting in an endless collection of fresh and exciting residential and commercial designs.

Jennifer Adams