In conversation with: Paul Sewell on innovative surfaces in hotel design

From practical considerations to the latest style influences, Paul Sewell, Specifications Manager at CTD Architectural Tiles, discusses with Editor Hamish Kilburn the impact surfaces can have in hotel design…

Surface Hotel Design

There’s nothing quite like characterful surfaces in hotel design to create a lasting impression in all areas. These days, when it comes to innovative surfaces, there is so much on offer – you only had to attend Surface Design Show to see how manufacturers are create new, bold and ethically sourced products.

To understand more about the latest trends – and to get a glimpse of the brand’s latest collections – I caught up with Paul Sewell, Specifications Manager at CTD Architectural Tiles to discuss the power of a first impression, hygienic offers and what designers should consider when specifying new tiles.

Hamish Kilburn: You have recently unveiled a number of new product collections – what are the latest tile trends you’ve been able to tap into?

Paul Sewell: The curation of our new ranges has been directly informed by the conversations we are having with our clients and our desire to always ensure we can offer the choice and creativity they need. Traditional and decorative ‘chipped’ stone finishes, such a terrazzo and Ceppo Di Gre styles, have enduring popularity and lately, there has been a growing preference for combining natural materials with warmer colour palettes. Our new Inclusioni Classico tile range perfectly captures both these elements and includes some striking Mediterranean inspired tones. This range also offers the timeless beauty of a terrazzo effect in a porcelain tile which is not only easier to install but also has real longevity and durability.

Using terrazzo style tiles alongside simple yet striking cement finishes is also proving popular and our new Masterpiece tile collection embraces this. Master is inspired by concrete, and Piece emulates the traditional Italian speckled look. These tiles can be freely combined together or used separately to create bespoke designs and work well with designers who are looking to create a rich palette of complementary colours and finishes.

A blue wallpaper inside a bedroom

Image credit: CTD Architectural Tiles

HK: A good first impression is everything – how can tiles create a welcoming front of house design?

As many modern hotel schemes are increasingly being used as spaces that welcome all sorts of visitors, not just guests, but hot-desk workers and visitors to restaurant and bar facilities, the opportunities for creating stunning front of house interiors are vast. We are continuing to see a preference for using larger format tiles to create stunning feature atrium floor designs, with richly glazed smaller format tiles used as wall details to connect to the other spaces.

We are also seeing a greater use of colour with royal blues and deep greens creating really opulent and luxurious interiors, and pastel shades evoking a sense of calmness and serenity. Many of our existing tile collections have been updated to include wider colour options to offer even greater creative flexibility. The Affrescati range embodies this trend really well and it is inspired by the look and feel of traditional Italian tiles and aged plaster. This gives the tile a tactile, sumptuous character and one that looks stunning when used as feature wall – the blue tile with star décor detailing is simply stunning.

Experimenting with texture and finishes can also be really effective in zoning a space, particularly when used alongside different lighting conditions. We’ve again responded to this by expanding and refining our tile ranges. The new Marea collection for example can produce really striking effects in different lights thanks to its undulating ribbed pattern which creates contrast between both gloss and matt finishes.  It’s a simple but striking way to create a focal point or create defined areas.

HK: From offering al-fresco dining to providing access to complementary sports facilities, outdoor areas need to work seamlessly with the interior space – how can the commercial tile package help achieve a cohesive design?

PS: They absolutely do need to work together and if the last few years have shown us anything, it is that outdoor spaces need to offer the same level of comfort and aesthetic appeal as the interior. With this is mind, we’ve been able to offer tile solutions that allow designers to create a unified design scheme with seamless internal and external flooring designs. Large format limestone inspired tiles such as those found in our Anthology collection provide the perfect balance between being practical, as they are both hardwearing and offer excellent anti-slip properties, and providing a stunning, seamless design when in situ.

One of the biggest challenges of creating harmony between interior and exterior space is that although the same style of flooring tiles can be used, not all ranges will enable the same size tiles to be used in these different environments. We’ve addressed this with the addition of the Stern range, which includes extra large tiles that can be used both inside and outside for a coherent design.

Melia Innside Hotel Newscastle 2

Image credit: CTD Architectural Tiles

HK: Of course, it isn’t all about aesthetics – what other qualities need to be considered when specifying commercial tile packages?

PS: The durability of tiles is unrivalled and they are the perfect solution for high-traffic areas and a great long-term investment. The other main issue to consider is of course safety and we not only offer a wide range of tiles with great anti-slip performance but we can also work closely with our clients to find the most appropriate tiles for their project, particularly when working on areas such as swimming pools, spas and wet rooms. Traditionally, tiles with ultra high-slip resistance could also be harder to clean and we’ve been keen to find a solution to this, which is why we’ve recently added some innovative glazed tiles to our collection such as Realstone Argent, which scores highly in terms of slip resistance but is also almost completely smooth to the touch and exceptionally easy to clean.

HK: Speaking of cleanliness, how has the tile industry responded to the need to keep surfaces hygienically clean?

PS: With hygiene being so important to this sector, there is also huge potential for the use of anti-bacterial tiles which is one of the most exciting innovations of the last few years.  These tiles have an enhanced glaze which eliminates bacteria on contact, making spaces cleaner and more hygienic for guests. The technology is baked into the tile, meaning it will work for the full life of the tile and importantly, can’t be washed away no matter how robust the cleaning regime. This type of tile offers incredible practical benefits but as always, we are aware that our clients don’t want to have to compromise on aesthetics. That’s why we been keen to add some really beautiful and bold ranges to our collection such as Luce which combines a high-performance anti-bacterial glaze with a striking finish reminiscent of silk. This creates a truly lustrous visual statement which alters as the viewer moves past it.

Inclusioni by CTD Architectural Tiles

Image credit: CTD Architectural Tiles

HK: Sustainability is also an important topic for anyone working in the built environment sector. How can you work with designers to provide eco-friendly and stylish solutions?

PS: We are having many conversations with both our clients and manufacturing partners about sustainability and I’m pleased to say that we are consistently able to bring new solutions to the table. We offer several tile ranges that achieve Gold Cradle-to-Cradle certification and only work with tile manufacturers that have Environmental Product Declarations. Many of our tiles also have high recycled content, such as our Yuri range which is created using 90 per cent recycled materials.

As a UK-based supplier, we are also keen to minimise the embedded carbon generated through the distribution of our products, which is why we hold large amounts of stock to be able to offer efficient and timely deliveries. For other tile ranges that we don’t hold in stock, we can offer quick lead times so that projects can remain on track.

HK: Can you tell us more about some of the recent hotel schemes you have been involved with?

PS: We’re proud to have partnered to supply tile packages for a number of clients in the hotel sector and we have worked with both large national hotel chains as well as independent operators.

Most recently we supplied the tile package for the new Melia InnSiDE hotel in Newcastle. Located in the historic Quayside area of the city, the new hotel has been designed to complement the industrial heritage of its surroundings and required a tile solution that combines both natural aesthetics with enhanced durability. We put forward tiles from our Realstone Rain range, which has been inspired by the look and feel of English Limestone, and these have been used to great effect in the hotel’s main entrance area and staircase. To create a focal point, the floor design features the soft tones of the Almond coloured Realstone Rain tiles with the darker Griege tiles installed in strips across the width of the floor. It’s a really stunning scheme.

Another recent example is the newly renovated and rebranded Broadcroft Hotel in Glasgow which embodies a lot of the key trends that we have seen in this sector. The hotel has made a real focal point of its reception area, using the natural tones of our Realstone Slate iron stone effect floor tiles to accentuate the warmer tones of the walls and soft furnishings. The hotel also showcases a stunning design in its new café bar-grill which both complements the main reception area and also creates a distinct identity. Here the use of the Havana White Garden patterned tile defines the bar area and showcases the vibrant blue tones that we have been seeing so much of. The use of patterns and colour creates an attractive contrast with the warmer tones of the adjoining wooden floor to create a really stunning space.

HK: As well as offering a vast range of tile solutions, what other services can you offer designers working in this sector?

PS: What we are able to offer our clients, and what makes many of them choose to work with us time and time again, is our in-house technical expertise. That means we can work with clients at the very earliest stage of a project to provide them with inspiration and insight – we can suggest tile collections that we know work well in hotel settings and we can also address the key practical requirements. We find our skill set is particularly valuable when working on complex areas of a hotel such as swimming pool areas as we can provide tile packages that not only look amazing but work effectively within the space. The potential for the use of tiles in this sector is vast and we are passionate about helping our clients realise it for their own projects.

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Main image credit: CTD Architectural Tiles