Tile is a ubiquitous decorative finish. It is commonly used as an aesthetic element rather than a building material by architects and interior designers. The earliest usage of tile was for flooring.
“With regard to all buildings that I design, my first option for floor coverings and wet areas is porcelain tile due to its beauty, durability and sustainability,” says Michael P Johnson, Principal of Michael P Johnson Design Studios in Cave Creek, Arizona.
The need for sophisticated decorations in buildings inspired advancements in tile manufacturing processes. The realization that floor tiles would be too delicate for heavy usage led to it becoming a decorative wall element. In contrast, we have seen century old buildings inlaid with it, proving its longevity and strength. Ceramic’s pliable nature lends itself to limitless possibilities as far as form and the technology behind it. It becomes an increasingly strong competitor to any other building material mainly because of its durability and low maintenance requirements.
Let me digress…
Michael P Johnson, who was teaching when I was still a student at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, was one of the first American designers to incorporate the ventilated facade systems in a US project, using tile. This is a demonstration that tile can be used anywhere.
“I was introduced to the ventilated wall system at the trade fair in Bologna, Italy in 2001. In 2003 Wilkinson Floor Covering Company commissioned me to design a face lift for their bland tilt-up concrete office/warehouse building. I felt that because the lion’s share of their work was tile flooring that it would be a good fit and it proved to be a great choice because visually it enhanced the building ten-fold,” explains Michael Johnson. “My work does not tend to innovate but to solve the problems of my clients. The use of tiles in an appropriate manner serves them well – due to beauty, durability and sustainability,” Johnson further points out.
There are so many possibilities to incorporate tile on the exterior of a building, not only as a floor covering but as part of the building’s structures. Ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, and architecture are converging, provoking the Architecture & Design community to think about these elements as “providing the make-up of habitats and structures,” perhaps like “your overall composition that is beyond where they are traditionally featured.” Architects and designers need to get past the prejudices about the product (tile).
One of the best ways to achieve a sustainable building using tile is to leverage it beyond the decorative. Get informed and inspired as Michael P Johnson of Michael P Johnson Design Studio and I, Lira Luis of ALLL, present our session at Coverings 2012 entitled “Tile: From Decorative to Sustainable” on April 18, 2012 at 8am. Our session – and all educational sessions at Coverings – is free to attend. Click here to register today to join us in Orlando.
Lira Luis is an award-winning principal architect and named “Top 20 Under 40” for 2012 in the Midwest by ENR.