The Tile Connection
Human artistry has been a constant throughout the ages of stone quarrying, maintaining a tradition from the Romans to today at Walker Zanger.
By Kirsten Niper
For over 60 years, Walker Zanger has harvested stone from quarries around the globe, offering clients marble and stone individually selected and evaluated by stone masters who have worked the quarries for generations. Taking inspiration from traditional art forms still practiced today — from craftsmen in the Central Mexico highlands that press and finish terracotta by hand, Tunisian artisans that hand fit mosaics and Italian masters who etch designs into stone — it has grown into a leading luxury brand.
Crediting the human connection to their success — the workers who have passed down their knowledge through generations to the craftsmen who create the final piece — Walker Zanger is constantly evolving and forming new relationships.
Recently, the brand launched its Robert A.M. Stern collection, which combines traditional smaller tiles with truly monumental tiles.
“The collection achieves stunning effects that are rich in detail, while evoking a diverse palette of historical influences ranging from shingle-clad country homes to elegant urban residences,” shares Walker Zanger’s Vice President of Design and Marketing, Jared Becker.
The collaboration came to life after years of working together on projects, and the starting idea was to translate the Robert A.M. Stern architectural lexicon into tile.
Robert A.M. Stern is noted for his interpretation of the American Vernacular Architecture, and the collection references notes throughout Stern’s career. The Wave and Otto tile are a reinterpretation of the classic three-by-six subway tile, a New York staple. The Wave, the most popular design of the collection, references coastal influences with its soft curves, and Otto was inspired by fin de siècle Viennese design and architecture of the Vienna Secession movement. The Trellis style is inspired by indoor garden rooms of classic summer homes on the East coast, while the Shingle is a nod to the shingle-clad residential architecture homes Robert A.M. Stern created earlier in his career that remain popular in the northeast.
The collaborative effort began with Walker Zanger reviewing photos of Robert A.M. Stern’s work to look for themes that would translate well to tile. After conversing with Stern’s design team, suites of designs were generated and Walker Zanger winnowed the looks down to what is featured in the collection. “We went through numerous iterations of design, paying a lot of attention to scale, degree of relief and other details, which make the final product so unique. It was a great collaboration process,” explains Becker. “By combining our artistic and technical skills with the design vision of Robert A.M. Stern Architects, consumers and designers will benefit from this exclusive partnership.”
Another line, Tilt, formerly a monochromatic, all-white design, was reinvigorated through a similar process, to present designers and homeowners with a wealth of options to add a decorative punch, or create subtle geometric backdrops.
Inspired by Hollywood Regency, Pop Art, Gothic Carving, Flower Power and 1970s Sci Fi, the eclectic revision of the line offers a variety of shapes and textures. “With new eye-catching colors and a classic retro attitude, Tilt is jewelry for your walls,” shares Becker.
The most popular style of Tilt is Ottoman, which reflects a gentle geometric shape, a perfect style to update any space. The mosaics include many variations, such as Alexander Oval, Clover, Daisy, David Hexagon and blends colors ranging from Brownie to Candy and Sunshine to White Smoke.
The unique and refreshed tiles can be used to complete architectural spaces, and Becker is even seeing clients taking a backslash to the ceiling. “We are sure designers and homeowners alike will appreciate the color palette and breadth of designs.”