Featured on the cover of this issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design is the inside of D’Espresso - a coffee shop that has created quite a buzz in New York City. Using custom-made tiles that create the look of bookshelves turned on their sides, the interior design is hip, fresh and definitely inventive. This is a prime example of “thinking outside the box” and pushing the envelope of design.

To create the custom tile, the designer, Anurag Nema of nemaworkshop in New York, worked closely with Imagine Tile, a New York-based tile manufacturer. “We organized a photo shoot at a travel bookshop in New York, and sent the photographs to Imagine Tile,” said Nema. “First, we were brought a full-scale mock-up of the print on foam core, and then we went through a series of tile mock-ups, finely tuning the contrast and color of the tile.”

While D’Espresso’s interior design illustrates the creativity of the designer, it also is a testament to the incredible advancements in modern-day technology. The fact that there is equipment that can produce such detailed images on tile is amazing to me. It also demonstrates that the options for unique and innovative designs are seriously endless. A full article about D’Espresso, including details about the design objective and tile production process, can be found here.

Another interesting project showcased in this edition can be found here. When building an oceanfront home in Montauk, NY, architect James Biber, FAIA, took inspiration from floor tile that he once saw years ago in a hotel in Sorrento, Italy. His search for a replication of this tile eventually led him to the original manufacturer of the hotel tile, and the Italian tile manufacturer was able to produce the custom tile for the residential project.

“The tiles are very dynamic, like ripples in the ocean,” explained Biber. “What’s interesting to me is I’m glad they don’t keep the tile as a stock item. It’s really a special tile, and we’ve done a lot of tile and a lot of custom tile. I think this is one of the most successful examples.”

D’Espresso and the private residence in Montauk are just two examples of how tile can prompt unique and inspiring designs. And in addition to custom tile, there is a bountiful supply of stone and tile products on the market today that are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures. As we begin the New Year, stone and tile manufacturers are busy preparing their introductions for 2011. Take some time to see what is available and realize the possibilities.