It is interesting to watch the evolution of stone and tile through time. While these materials have been around for thousands of years, modern technology has allowed for new sizes, textures and colors. Just in recent years, there is a noticeable difference in the quality of products available. Materials such as shimmering glass, muted metallics and honed marbles are making designs fresh and vibrant.

One arena that has really experienced a transformation is mosaic design, which is featured in an article in this issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design beginning on page 48. This ancient art form has been around for centuries -- dressing up the interiors of many historic buildings. And while these tiny pieces are still used to create intricate wall and floor patterns and murals, they are also now being implemented in more contemporary applications.

Iridescent glass mosaics have become a huge medium. They are being used to clad entire walls and floors in residential spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms as well as in commercial venues such as for the face of bars or reception counters. The reflective quality of the material brings depth and dimension to a design.

And in another twist, mosaics are not necessarily being made to replicate an Old World look. Once cut and crafted by hand, mosaics are now being mass-produced on automatic machines specifically designed for this use. Rather than being pieced together one by one at the jobsite, they are often mesh-mounted on 12- x 12-inch squares.

Furthermore, waterjet machines are allowing for unique shapes and sizes. An example can be found in the feature on mosaics, where "wavy" mosaic tiles form a modern master bath design in a loft in Arizona. "We wanted to do something to make the space interesting," explained designer Libby Copeland, ASID, of Copeland Interiors, Inc. in Phoenix, AZ.

While classic mosaic designs will always remain in style, it is refreshing to see how technology has put a modern spin on things by providing more options for designers to create unique, one-of-a-kind designs. By blending traditional art form with new trends, the doors are opened for limitless design possibilities.

Jennifer Adams