Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict: Talking Design

We were lucky enough to get to speak to Joe Simpson, a tile aficionado who is editor of Diary of a Tile Addict and also Tile & Stone Journal (TSJ). We spoke about his favourite tile trends, his predictions for the future, and his tips for tackling a tiling project…

How did you get started in the tile industry?

I started my journalistic career in architectural and specification magazines in the UK. In my time I have edited Building Products, Building Refurbishment, Specification, Specifier Review, and Eco magazines, among many others. While I always had a particular interest in tiles, reinforced when I visited the Minton Hollins factory in early 1980s, it was when George Gash, one of the sales team on Building Design, visited Lesley Reid at The Tile Promotion Board to try to sell her some display advertising, that I started to specialise in tiles. Lesley didn’t want to buy ads, but she did suggest the idea of a specialist tile magazine for the UK. George spoke to his publisher, the publisher called me (I was freelance Technical Editor for BD at the time) and Tile UK was born. I edited that magazine for around 10 years until I joined forces with Kick-Start Publishing to launch Tile & Stone Journal. The trade body now called The Tile Association happily gave our new venture the seal of approval as the official TTA magazine and, 14 years later, it is still going strong.

I am also International Correspondent for Tile Today and Discovering Stone in Australia, and contribute to other specialist tile titles across the globe on a freelance basis; so I guess I must love writing about tiles!

Two years ago I launched my personal ceramic tile website and blog: www.diaryofatileaddict.com. This allows me more freedom to write about what interests me in the tile industry as it does not have the commercial constraints of the magazines. Design-led, it covers all things tile-related and aims to enthuse, inform, and educate professional purchasers and specifiers of tiles. To date it has gathered in excess of 18,500 followers, in more than 4,500 companies, across 120 countries: so it seems to have global appeal.

What’s your favourite tile trend right now?

I will pick out two. The first is pre-scored tiles with strong linear decors that allow today’s coloured grouts to be used in really creative ways, and also allows one base tile to achieve many different designs.

The second are the new generation of tiles, notable leather-effects, that are starting to explore the potential of 3D printing onto flat biscuit. It is early days, but I think this is a very exciting technological development that will open up amazing new creative options for tile designers.

Describe your personal style

I have a split design personality. On one side I am an eclectic, neo-hippy, salvage-savvy melangist; and on the other I am a paired-down, industrial chic, brutalist.

What’s your number one tip when it comes to starting a new tiling project?

When setting your tiling budget, always look beneath the tiles. Use specialist tile backer boards, and – whatever else you do – don’t skimp when it comes to selecting the adhesive and grout. The latest top-of-the-range formulations offer awesome performance and ease-of-use. Anything else is, quite simply, a false economy.

What are your tile trend predictions for next year?

Little and large. 3,200 by 1,600mm (or near offers) will really be in the spotlight along with all sub-multiples (1,200 by 1,200mm, 900 by 900mm, 600 by 1,200mm, etc). But they will be rubbing shoulders with more and more small traditional formats (100 by 100mm, 100 by 200mm, 75 by 150mm, and 200 by 200mm wall tiles), and, possibly, new 300 by 300mm floor tiles.

While I expect concrete, wood, marble and sandstone to continue to be very strong, I am expecting more colour, particularly rich pastels, and more co-ordinated colour palettes across the naturally-inspired ranges, such as pulpis marble in complementary hues that share a common vein pattern, or wood-grain planks in knocked-back stain effects that are designed to work together.

I am also anticipating more lustre and metallic highlights, and vitrosa-style shimmers.

Do you have a favourite design show?

I love Coverings for its value-added seminars and uber-efficient organisation; Cersaie for Bologna and the breadth of tile choice; Revestir for 3D forms; Cevisama for Valencia and wall tile style; and Clerkenwell Design Week for the urban party vibe. But if I had to choose one it would be The Surface Design Show because it is compact, eclectic, well curated and doesn’t involve airports or queuing for passport control.

What’s your favourite range from Walls and Floors, and why?

It would have to be Mingle Brick Tiles. I think UK consumers, probably influenced by TV property shows such as Location, Location, Location and, particularly, Homes Under The Hammer, are just too cautious when it comes to colour. And it may be true that, in unskilled hands, colour can ruin a room. But I don’t want to live in a world where everything is beige, greige, taupe or bone (see USA tile show, circa 1995).

Mingle is bold, brassy and beautiful, ideal for creating a striking feature wall or totally out-there splashback. As stated earlier, I am a melangist, so I am drawn to patterns and colours. In the Mingle range, they really pop with their shimmering gloss finish.

*  *  *  *  *  *

There you have it – some expert insight from one of the world’s most experienced tile writers. For more tile news and trends, head over to Joe’s blog, Diary of a Tile Addict.

Walls and Floors
Walls and Floors