Each and every year, stone and tile trends change constantly in the architectural and design communities and can be difficult to keep up with. We at Contemporary Stone & Tile Design magazine wanted to get opinions from different architects and designers around the country to find out what they are seeing, and what they expect to see. Before getting into the trends they are seeing, let’s spend a little time getting to know those who are about to answer:

Lori Wiles— “I’m a true Midwesterner, born and raised in Missouri, now living in Iowa. Growing up, I spent lots of time in the working barns and classic farm houses in my rural area. My capable and creative mom gave me ample opportunity to draw, paint, sew and build things for fun. That led to a degree in interior design and a long career in the field. I’ve always been especially interested in interior architecture and how it impacts the people who use the spaces. My interior design firm specializes in planning new construction and remodeling with the end user experience in mind.”

Ryan Thewes— “I grew up in Southern Indiana and graduated from Ball State University. After graduation, I was fortunate to get a job in Chicago, IL, working for a former Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice – 
Don Erickson. The incredible experience of working for Don introduced me to the theories of Wright’s organic architecture which, among many other things, focused on the use of natural materials and the creation of space. I expanded on my education of organic 
architecture by also working for Robert Green, a former Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice in Atlanta, GA, and eventually an apprenticeship with Bart Prince in Albuquerque, NM. I am currently practicing out of Nashville, TN.”

Maxim Nasab— “I am the principal and founder of Apexx Architecture, a firm specializing in bridge architecture and recreational piers. Our firm is located in Tallahassee, FL. I am originally from Montréal, Canada. I got into architecture because it allowed me to pursue my love of science and technology, but also allowed my creativity to flourish. Architecture has the power to change cities for the better for generations. It is a profession that can truly make the world a better place and architects have the responsibility to ensure this through their designs. I believe in designing for the people and the greater good rather than fame or recognition. I believe that great architecture is derived from honesty and transparency. Using local natural materials and allowing the structural system to express itself by integrating it within the design. Whenever I walked in buildings, and even today, I always tried to guess the materials that buildings were structurally supported by. It always made me a little sad when materials were not honest or true, or the structure was not evident. This is one reason why I went into bridge architecture. It is very hard to hide the structure of a bridge, and instead I always try to enhance its visibility, express its beauty and make it clear to the user as to how it is supported. Anyone should be able to walk in.”

Charmaine Wynter— “I am Jamaican Canadian, and an international multi-awarded interior designer with projects spanning the residential and hospitality sector. My natural design talent began to make its emergence in 1981, surprising family and friends, but it wasn’t until the late 1980s that I took it seriously and enrolled in an interior design program at a recognized college. I founded my design firm in Toronto, Canada in 1996; and later transitioned to the Dallas, TX, location in 2016, where it is now headquartered. Now many decades post-graduation, as principle designer, I jet back and forth to work projects of interest on both sides of the Canadian and U.S. boarders — infusing each with my signature distinctive luxurious living design aesthetics.”

Dawn D. Totty— “I started 25 years ago and it was fast and furious in New York. When I transitioned from there to the south, I was 1,000 miles away. I had to start from scratch. I had to reinvent myself. That was challenging.”

Trends with stone

One of the first things I discussed with each of our participants were the trends they were seeing with stone in particular. Over the years, the popularity of engineered stone has fluctuated, while natural stone seems to be extremely popular with some people rather than others. According to Wiles, she is seeing more people interested in using stone in their homes and offices than even a few years ago. “From my perspective, it’s become easier than ever to find the perfect material for any project with all of the stones available,” she said. “I particularly like the uniformly colored stones at the extremes of light and dark palettes. These make a great statement and give some confidence that a color palette can change through the years without having to change the large areas of stone.”

Wiles isn’t the only one that sees the popularity in natural stone. Thewes, Nasab and Wynter all agree with her. “What I have been seeing is a lot of natural materials, natural colors and natural tones,” said Nasab. “Limestone is really popular along with granites that have that limestone look. Minimalism and honesty in materials is coming back strong and will be here to stay for a while. Clients and users are craving that real feeling when they touch materials, which is why a lot of the companies are working hard to mimic that look and feel. Some of them are getting really close, too.”

Thewes is seeing a lot more requests for stone as the popularity of “Mid-Century Modern” design continues to rise. “I think part of this is because people still want modern design, but are turned off by the cold sterile nature of some of it,” he said. “The use of natural materials like wood and stone help soften the design yet allow us to keep a strong modern aesthetic. Linear stacked stone complements these types of projects perfectly by emphasizing the horizontal line and providing a defined texture that works well in opposition to smooth surfaces like wood, glass and drywall. Depending on the budget, we have had some pretty good success with engineered stone. However, for the more discerning client, it is tough to beat natural stone. While the wide range of colors are still often used and will never go out of style, we are seeing more of a request for darker colors. Almost black in some cases.”

Wynter is seeing popularity with quartz surfacing because of its look and durability. “Quartz is extremely popular with clients seeking a marble look, but the durability only provided by engineered stones,” said Wynter. “Stone is such a luxe material with its many faceted sheens and textures that there are trends within a trend. However, in general, I’m using more cool-toned hues with larger veining and fissure movement within the stone than a few years ago.”

Totty sees it not only with natural stone but also with quartz, because of how they look. “Patterns, movement and more color is making its way into the realm of interior design with the usage of quartz and marble being the forerunners,” said Totty. “Stone pigments that are currently trending are soft greens, grays and neutrals that are a wonderful complement to today’s interior design trends.”

When it comes to application of stone, according to Wynter, it is being more of the norm with her clients. “What’s great is that as the use of luxury stones are becoming more the norm, my clients are relaxing and spaces are more often taking on a casual luxe style,” said Wynter. “I’m using stone on the flooring, countertops and backsplashes, fireplace facades, accent walls and in outdoor living rooms.”

“While fireplaces continue to be the place that people think of using stone first, I like to incorporate stone in lots of areas in a home like kitchens and bathroom,” said Wiles. “In commercial settings, a stone wall or columns are a fairly easily constructed feature that suggests stability and permanence.  I’ll consider using it in any area that I think needs a great visual weight to help balance out the space.”

For Thewes, he is seeing the most common use for stone is in accent walls for both residential and commercial projects. “The ability to light the walls really accentuates the texture and draws attention to the feature,” said Thewes. “This is very effective in commercial projects where traditionally, more sterile and simple materials are used. The stone offers a good break from these materials while also providing a durable and maintenance-free surface.”

For Nasab, he is seeing stone used primarily for exterior paving, stairs and plazas. “It really enhances the site and gives it that extra touch of beauty, especially when it’s a natural stone,” he said.

Totty is utilizing marble and granite in big ways, such as installing it onto kitchen walls for a bold and elegant statement. “Kitchen larders, countertops, backsplashes and even floors are some of my favorite uses for granite, quartz and marble,” said Totty. “Both commercial and residential projects are now implementing stone surfaces to create a regal look with the benefit of durability.”

Tile Design Trends

When it comes to designing with tile, it seems that the material is a lot like stone, especially for Totty. “Floor-to-ceiling tiled walls in kitchens and bathrooms, and even laundry rooms, are very popular,” she said. “In many cases, the tile is the dominating focal point to a room’s decor.” 

According to Nasab, whose area of expertise is not tile, he has noticed that tiles have continued to evolve and currently they are still hitting strong with mimicking the look of natural stone.

One thing that stands out to Thewes with tiles are the extremes they go to with size. “Tile size trends have continued to swing away from the standard 12- x 12-inch tile to either extreme,” said Thewes. “Either very small or very large, depending on the application. For our projects, we still focus on the more earthy and muted colors that are more simple and less busy. Black and white are timeless and can be adapted to any style or aesthetic so they are always popular.

“There has been a pretty significant rise in the popularly of the wood plank tiles that gives the look of a wood floor, but the durability of tile,” Thewes went onto say. “I tend to shy away from materials that pretend to be something they are not, but I have seen a quite a few of these fake wood products that are very well done.”

Wiles has also noticed the different types and feels of tile that are currently on the market. “I continue to be amazed at how many tile designs there are and excited about the tactile finishes they have now,” said Wiles. “We’re seeing our client’s willingness to use a variety of shapes like hexagons, octagons and circles increase. They’re now open to shapes that would have been unheard of just a few years ago. It also seems that tile manufacturers have become really in tune with current color palettes and color palette projections, which helps designers use their products more easily.”

“Tiles are dimensional and showing up in large formats,” said Wynter. “Pattern is back after a long rest so we are embracing lace, ethnic and graphic print on wall and floor tile. Keep your eyes peeled for hues of green and coral — especially this year.”

As far as applications go, according to Wiles, “Beautifully tiled bathrooms are the number one request from homeowners so we’re designing fully tiled showers, tub surrounds and backsplashes. The development of the really large-scaled and textural tiles that mimic other materials makes feature walls a big hit as well.”

Wynter said that tile will always be the strongest in commercial applications due to its durability and resilient nature, but it is making strong headway into the residential arena as the popularity for outdoor backyard oasis’ increase. Totty agrees with Wynter in the outdoor use of tile. “Outdoor kitchens are now showcasing tiled areas for durability, as well as aesthetics,” said Totty. “Tile is still the first choice for most home and commercial installations, in particular, shower walls and floors, laundry and mud rooms, as well as entryways for low maintenance and easy clean-up.”

“For tile, floors are still the main use,” said Thewes. “Occasionally, we will see an accent wall or something similar executed, but mainly floors and shower surrounds are most popular.”

Trends moving forward

Finally, we asked these architects and designers about the trends moving forward for both stone and tile. 

Totty– “Tile with graphic, bold patterns and colors are quite favorable and are being used as statement makers in powder rooms, kitchen floors and laundry rooms to create that ‘wow’ factor in interior design. Granite and marble with movement are now used as art. Matching up patterned seams and placed vertically on walls in high-end hotel lobbies creates an amazing show stopping affect to any wall.”

Wynter— “Green is coming on strong as a trend color that has made it to classic status, so I predict we will see green marbles, green granites in all hues from glass to jade, as of green slates.”

Nasab— “I believe that natural colors will stay for a while, especially in stone. It is hard to beat natural stone, especially now that it has become much more affordable. What I am seeing in tile is black and whites coming back. That modern minimalistic design is coming back strong. There is no better material than stone in terms of natural beauty and bang for the buck. I would encourage designers and clients to find local quarries and start from there rather than hit the foreign stones right off the bat. It really is a beautiful thing to use materials that are locally sourced and they truly make the projects feel as if they belong in the site they are built on.”

Thewes— “Looking into the future, I don’t really see much of a change for tile other than possibly an increase in use due to its durability. It’s a battle between what the client desires more, warmth or durability. However, I do think that the use of stone will continue to rise as it provides both warmth and durability. As the quality of engineered stone improves, costs should go down and using stone in projects will no longer be a major drain on budgets. Durability and low maintenance are always important client requests and this material fits right in with that while also providing a major increase in quality and design. The addition of stone to any project increases its value and the perception of cost.”

Wiles— “I think we will continue to see natural and natural-looking hard surface materials in demand. These will be used in larger areas and combined with other materials that have more of an artisan vibe to create really durable, tactile and friendly environments. Tile and stone are really designer’s friend. Once you know how to best use them and have great craftspeople to install them, they can transform any space.”