In an era of digital inkjet printing and ultra-large ceramic slabs, the world’s specialist mosaic producers can seem like a bit of a throwback. However, the resilient appeal of tesserae mosaics bears eloquent testimony to the potential of this historically important surface finish.
In fashionable areas like metallic glazes, Moorish-inspired geometric patterns or the enticing curves of a walk-in snail shower, traditional mosaics still attract architects, interior designers and aspirational home owners across the globe.
However, just as small format tiles enjoy something of a renaissance, it has been notable that the big names in mosaics, like Bisazza, are moving into larger formats, such as 100 by 100mm, 100 by 200mm and many variants in between.
Often created in collaboration with name designers, the latest offerings from the big mosaic houses still use multi-tile patterns, but the unit size has grown from 12 by 12mm or 25 by 25mm up to something far more easily identified as a tile rather than a tesserae.
That is not to say that these factories have abandoned traditional square or rounded edged tesserae mosaics; they have merely enhanced their offering into larger formats in order to increase the scope of their creative solutions.
To prove this point, one of the top names, Appiani, recently launched Highline, a single press-firing mosaic for interior and exterior applications. This is a collection with a strong visual character that offers eleven solid colours on 300 by 300mm sheets with mesh-mounted 12 by 12mm tesserae. Matte and gloss effect tiles are arranged to form urban New York-vibe brick patterns.
The characteristic details of some neighbourhoods in the Big Apple, such as the famous “high line” pedestrian path, provided the inspiration for this new collection that sees metropolitan atmospheres turned into pale tinted mosaic blocks.
Appiani mosaics was founded in Treviso, Italy in 1873. In 1960, the Appiani family embarked upon a policy of modernisation and started to work on projects with designers such as Giò Ponti and Pompeo Pianezzola. It built a production plant the following decade to make glazed porcelain stoneware using monocottura technology – single pressing and firing. The company was taken over by the Bardelli family in the 1990s, who decided to focus on reinstating tradition and heritage by developing the production of ceramic mosaics.
Today, Appiani offers individual pieces and flexible modules enabling designers to create combinations, designs and layouts with decorative finesse and architectural value. Appiani has rediscovered the appeal of materials from the past like mosaics (mosaic art), offering colours, shapes and finishes to create surfaces using a variety of materials and multiple coloured blocks by combining shapes and dimensions of traditional ceramics.
Production is divided into complementary products, made using various production technologies that can be combined with one another, including monocottura, bicottura and glazed porcelain stoneware. An Appiani ceramic mosaic sets it apart from glass mosaics: perpendicular sides, flat masonry and a slightly rounded glazed surface allow for perfect adhesion of the tiles during installation. Ideal in terms of aesthetics and shape, these mosaics preserve their beauty and resistance over time.
Appiani is now a member of the Altaeco group, along with three other tile companies: Ceramica Bardelli, Gabbianelli and Ceramica Vogue.
Perhaps the most famous name in mosaics, the essence of Bisazza lies in the fusion of creativity and high-end luxury that culminates in some stunning glass mosaics.
It has been this way since 1956 when Bisazza first began producing mosaic tiles in Alte Vicenza, Northern Italy. Here, Bisazza quickly became a trailblazer in glass mosaic, set apart by the founder’s entrepreneurial spirit, love of design and mastery of evolving technologies.
Since 2005, Bisazza has been part of Fondazione Altagamma. Alongside stable-mates such as Gucci, Ferrari and Versace, the association advocates leading Italian businesses and their underlying culture, to the rest of the world.
During the past few years, Piero Bisazza, the company’s CEO, has focused on bringing Bisazza mosaic tiles to a global audience.
Bisazza’s mosaic collections: Colours, Blends, Shading Blends, Flora, Modern, Timeless and Luxe provide an array of colours, tones, textures and patterns. They include gold bathroom mosaic tiles, utilising handmade gold leaf from Florence. These opulent gold and white-gold tiles are encapsulated in shimmering glass mosaic.
These gold bathroom mosaic tiles can be used to add highlights to blends or shading blends. Or if a design calls for pure decadence, complete walls or even an entire bathroom can be clad entirely in glistening gold.
Bisazza’s decoration collections include imaginings by some of the world’s most renowned designers including Jaime Hayon, Marcel Wanders, Paola Navone and Patricia Guild.
From simple glass mosaic colours to tiles with intense textural detail, Bisazza colours and blends represent the pinnacle of the art of mosaic design.
The Flora collection explores floral patterns in the colours of Bisazza glass mosaic; while the Bisazza Luxe mosaic collection features tiles embedded with gold, white gold and crystals.
The Modern collection demonstrates a contemporary aesthetic that brings Bisazza glass mosaic tiles to life in chic patterns. The Timeless collection is a gathering of sumptuous Bisazza mosaic patterns, both simple and complex.
And mosaic is not just for walls. The Bisazza Flooring collection displays the glass mosaic patterns whose style is especially well suited to flooring, although they can be used equally well in any other mosaic application.
A departure from traditional, light-coloured pool mosaic, Bisazza Sydney’s deeper hues impart a real aura of exclusivity. For this range, four mosaic tile colours from three Bisazza ranges are used together create a concoction of pattern, texture and colour.
A pool mosaic, Sydney conveys a strong sense of depth and volume with its pulsating dark blues taken from the Vetricolor, Smalto and LeGemme ranges.
Because the Australian climate can present challenges for pool builders, Bisazza has developed an innovative support system for mosaic sheets that ensures tile adhesion exceeds the requirements of the latest Australian standards.
As part of an on-going program of technical innovation, Bisazza’s hot-melt system for mosaic is exclusively available in Australia and New Zealand for selected colours and blends. The latest hot-melt cross linking system uses polyurethane thermo set adhesive which is strong, easy to adjust and does not change its characteristics when wet.
Bisazza PU adhesive is also UV resistant, so it will not darken over life. To further enhance the installation and the aesthetic appearance of the mosaic, Bisazza recommend the Bisazza range of Fillgel which has been further improved to provide a greater resistance to UV.
Since 1985, Reviglass has produced recycled glass mosaic at Bidania in Spain. Creating a 100% recycled glass mosaic requires advanced technology to develop an sustainable resource exploitation process in order to minimise the environmental impact. Reviglass boasts no emissions to the atmosphere and claims that the use of recycled glass reduces by up to 25% the consumption of energy during the production process.
Reviglass’ R&D does not end with production. Luminis is a glass mosaic that glows in the dark for from six to eight hours after being exposed to light. Ideal for emergency exits, danger signs, directional signs and arrows, the range is available in colours such as blue, celeste, turquoise and yellow.
Experts in glass tesserae, Reviglass offers everything from 12 by 12mm micro mosaics in more than 50 colour options and mixes; through to 25 by 25mm plain colours or mixes with rounded corners and edges; glazed anti-slip sheeted mosaics featuring 25 by 25mm tesserae, 36 by 36mm or 50 by 50mm tesserae; several plain and mottled ranges such as Galaxy and the CL range of 72 plain coloured glass pieces in 12 by 12mm and 15 by 15mm; and the Abalon range of pearlescent tesserae in 12 by 12mm and 25 by 25mm in 24 mother-of-pearl hues that really catch the light.
Post-Deco design is the energy behind the elegant, loops and swashes of the Arzigogolo mosaic. Designer Ferruccio Laviani describes his Arzigogolo graphic pattern as archetypal of the design of the 30s and 40s, drawing inspiration from the works of designers from the period such as André Arbus and Gio Ponti.
Arzigogolo Grigio contrasts a warm/neutral grey with white-gold mosaic, producing a simple yet highly refined pattern. The design is also available with dark loops on a white background – Arzigogolo Bianco – which contrasts white and grey Smalto tiles.
Another of the great names in mosaic, Sicis is an art mosaic factory based in Ravenna, Italy. Sicis is renowned for constantly creating new concepts in glass tile that then become the next cutting edge design element for designers and architects.
It is well known for reinventing the art of marble and stone mosaics in an industrial production, influencing and leading the development of artistic mosaic.
By combining craft skills, planning and continuous research, Sicis is able to offer unique surface solutions. Mosaic tesserae, more than anything else, express this by combining into infinite chromatic combinations and decorative patterns.
The Flower Power collection has intense chromatics with a background painting of huge flowers that go from sunflowers, narcissuses, daisies, noble roses etc.
Sicis Murano Smalto glass mosaic tile is an example of classical Italian glass making meeting 21st century design. It allows contemporary designers to draw from the rich colour palette of the ancient artisan glass makers. These variations of colour, surface texture and size were all part of Sicis’s plan when creating this rich classical glass mosaic.
Sicis Iridium Mosaic Glass Tile is an iridescent glass tile in a 5/8inch format. Its palette of colour can be coordinated to work together that can result in a spectacular, one-of-a-kind look.
Sicis Structura collection offers a series of glass mosaic panels with shiny square tesserae in different sizes, thicknesses and textures. Structura enlightens the three-dimensionality of a mosaic that, in a game of shapes and thicknesses, recreates the effect of a dazzling waterfall, flowing on shiny walls in an original way.
Finally, Ipix incorporates Sicis diverse glass mosaic collections, including transparent, iridescent, mirrored, and textured materials. With over 500 colours, clients are provided with the freedom to choose from a large number of variations, patterns, and colour palettes. With this autonomy, the Ipix collection delivers patterns ranging from tone on tone to strong contrasts, both figurative and abstract.