29 May 2012

Molten Gold – Subway Stop

I’ve always liked the simplicity and casual style of subway tile.  In fact, I specified it for a spread that will be featured in Kitchen and Bath Ideas’ November/December issue. Had I seen this handsome Workshop by McIntyre rustic glazed brick collection from clé when I was planning it, this would have been that kitchen’s backsplash instead. Next time… 

So, what do I like about this offering? For one, it’s easy care and durable, both high on my Sensible Style priority list. Second, it’s got a ton of character while maintaining the simple appeal of subway tile. Glazed brick tile is not fussy, getting its good looks from soft edges, deep finishes and lots of texture, (like the bricks that inspired it). It’s handcrafted without being kitsch. And it’s made in the USA, not overseas. (Woo hoo for buying American!) 

About the Tile 

The process of creating this collection’s rustic brick tiles starts with the clay. It is mined in California (where I live and work) and purposefully left in a raw state. This allows metallic particles to bleed through the glaze, causing charming speckles, dimples and bubbles. The two-and-a-half inch by eight inch brick cladding is extruded in a long column of clay and then sliced into half-inch tiles with a wire apparatus, similar to harp strings. Dried and then fired up to 2400 degrees (F), the glazes are hand-sprayed, resulting in their slight variations. Workshop brick subway tile can be used indoors and out, (though is intended mainly for wall, rather than heavy traffic floor, applications), and has been fully tested by the Brick Institute of America for freeze thaw temperatures. 

About the Collection 

When working on a NYC Subway project, McIntyre Tile developed several hundred glazes attempting to match the original tile that had been weathering underground for 100 years. This led to the Workshop Series Liberty and New California collections, available exclusively on clé. Liberty is glazed in a palette of matte and glossy industrial whites, blacks and grays with cherry red added for drama. New California takes its visual cue from a cool mid-century rainbow of dark moss, oatmeal, rusts and tans. A cobalt blue pops against the vintage Neutra-inspired palette. 

About McIntyre Tile 

McIntyre Tile has been making tile in Northern California since 1972. The company’s inspiration comes from the love of ceramics, glaze chemistry, color and the desire to contribute to the vision of design professionals. 

About clé 

clé (pronounced, appropriately, like clay), is a new online gallery of artisanal tile from around the world. The power of the Internet creates wide distribution opportunities for these small, artistic pieces, often made in limited production from tiny studios. There is no minimum order when buying tile from clé. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with some of clé’s competitors; now you have a new small quantity resource. (Tell them Jamie from Gold Notes sent you!) 

The Facts 

Specifications:  On website

Web site:  cletile.com

Price: $16.50 Per Square Foot/No Minimums

22 May 2012

MOLTEN GOLD – Color Forms

When I was a kid, I played with a creative toy called Colorforms, which let you take whichever bright colors and shapes appealed to you from the box and slap them onto a neutral background.  When Pyrolave's eye-popping yellow sink photo landed in my in-box last week, it brought that colorful play back to mind. 

So many kitchens and bathrooms today are like those Colorforms' blank, neutral backgrounds, begging for some energy, drama, fun...  COLOR!  If you like your sinks with a splash of dash, (and can justify spending lots of cash), Pyrolave's new lava stone offerings might appeal to you, too.

Lava Basics 

Volvic lava stone is extracted from the heart of volcanic craters in Auvergne, France. Engineers imbue the stone with colorful enamels and fire it at temperatures exceeding 1000° C. The finished material is incredibly durable. It’s able to withstand high temperatures and corrosive products, making it ideal for residential and commercial kitchens, bathrooms, tabletops, swimming pools, fireplace facades and outdoor living spaces. 

The Sinks 

The sink models shown here are just a starting point. Designers (and homeowners) can give their imagination full rein as each Pyrolave kitchen and bath sink is a unique creation crafted from their designs.   There are 16 delicious glossy and 16 soft matte colors from which to choose.  

The Pyrolave Brand 

I primarily knew this French firm for its luxurious (and lavishly beautiful) lava stone countertops.  I didn’t know that they also made sinks and architectural products.   Pyrolave is the world’s largest manufacturer of enameled lava stone. Headquartered in France, the company has studios across the world and has been importing its product line to the United States through J. Pauwels LLC since 1993. 

Using self-taught techniques, skilled craftsmen and engineers shape, color and glaze the stone into a finished product line renowned for its beauty and durability. Pyrolave can be found in the finest hotels, luxury resorts and the kind of homes you find in the glossiest magazines. 

The Facts 

Warranty:  No warranty

Pricing:  Starts at $4,500 

Website: pyrolave.com

15 May 2012

Eurocucina 2012 - Guest Post by Cheryl Hamilton-Gray of Hamilton-Gray Design

Cheryl Hamilton-Gray, CKD is one of the top kitchen and bath designers in the country, so when I ran into her last month and she agreed to share her impressions of the massive Eurocucina show she was about to attend in Milan, I was excited beyond measure!  Now that she's back, this Eurocucina veteran generously took the time to write down her thoughts and share her photos with Gold Notes readers.  Here's her take on what’s hot for kitchens from Europe. 



What I saw were predominantly white kitchens in lacquers and laminates mixed with textured rough-sawn woods from gray wash barn-wood tones to chocolate browns. Woods were wire-brushed and rough-sawn, in laminate and natural wood.  Shades of taupe with a mix of whites and woods, and natural walnut solid and veneer still have a strong presence. Unusual kitchen surfaces shown were concrete, chiseled marble, recycled paper and thin porcelain slab. Accent colors were predominantly in the battleship blue family, apple green and red. 

Epitome of textural and color combinations with steel patinated counters and sliding backsplash 


Counters were a mixture of materials and sizes, often in the same display. Thick or thin were evident, but rarely an inch and a half standard as in the US. Commonly used were stone slabs in brown and grey tones, very little Carrera or Calcutta marble. Engineered surfaces, glass, stainless and patinated metal counters were popular. I also saw an abundance of white engineered stone counters. 

Variations of counter thicknesses and materials 


Modular cabinet segments locking into each other on different planes vertically and horizontally were a strong trend. Still exhibiting working and storage stations concealed behind sliding doors along back kitchen wall with island in front. In some cases, the island has countertops that slide over prep or sink area. Along with sliding door applications, bi-fold pocket doors served the same function. When folded, they had a narrow hinged door concealing hardware. A lot of these applications were shown in life style environment displays with family room and dining room décor. 

Interlocking segment components 

Curves are making an appearance but not bold as in circular islands of the past. These are more gentle curves accenting cabinet ends or interior corners. They tend to soften some of the harder materials and finishes used. 

Cabinet curves 


Cabinet openings are primarily handle-less, accessed through a u-channel, vertical or horizontal cut out or touch-latch. Upper cabinet doors are generally horizontally-stacked and accessed with a remote control. Where hardware is used, it is as exaggerated as jewelry. 

Hardware as jewelry 

Cabinet interiors are gaining importance with contrasting veneer finishes,, glass shelves and drawer sides, even leather-clad shelves. Nearly all interiors are illuminated with LED lighting. An innovation in drawer inserts is a magnetic system where the dividers are easily moved to suit storage applications. 

Leather shelves 

PHOTOS:  All photographs were supplied by Cheryl Hamilton-Gray.


Cheryl Hamilton-Gray, CKD is an NKBA-certified kitchen and bath designer and the president of Hamilton-Gray Design, Inc. in San Diego's North County.  Her designs have been published in countless magazines and have won numerous awards.  

08 May 2012

KBIS 2012 - Best of Show Coverage

I didn't get to Chicago this year for NKBA's annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show.  (Can't get to everything!) That doesn't mean you miss out on KBIS coverage.  No way!

Every year, an expert panel names Best of KBIS Awards for the most innovative products at the event.  There is also a People's Choice award.  I just emailed that winner to a kitchen client for whom it might be perfect.  I'll likely specify it in numerous projects.  

These are the 2012 winners I'd rate as "Molten Gold" candidates:

Best of Show 

Segmented Cooktop: Gas/Griddle/Induction 

Press Release Copy:  Bertazzoni sets the new standard in surface cooking flexibility with its new Design Series Segmented cooktops. Housed in a sleek and sophisticated low-profile stainless steel frame, these new 36” cooktops are available in six combinations of gas, electric griddle and induction to perfectly match your own style of cooking. 

Molten Gold Perspective: Here's something for everyone: a cooktop that delivers the best of everything in one 36" cooktop. It offers performance and flexibility, as you can choose the combination that works best for your cooking need. Brava, Bertazzoni! 

Best Green Product 

MotionSense Faucets 

Press Release Copy: MotionSense™ from Moen provides an intuitive, hands-free kitchen faucet experience that responds to users’ simple hand movements to activate water flow. There are three ways to turn on faucets with MotionSense: The Wave Sensor at the top of the faucet, the Ready Sensor near the base of the faucet that identifies when an object is placed beneath the spout, and the handle on the side of the faucet offers traditional manual operation. 

Molten Gold Perspective: I love hands-free faucets for their water-savings, reduction of germ spread and convenience. When you've got a pot or a pet to wash, you may not have a free hand. I'm glad to see another brand introduce hands-free capability to the kitchen! 

People’s Choice Award 

U-Socket Wall Outlet with Built-in USB Ports 

Press Release Copy: U-Socket is an AC receptacle with built-in USB ports that can power any device that is capable of being charged via USB, including iPods, iPhones and iPads. Designed to replace a traditional wall outlet, U-Socket eliminates the clutter of AC Adapters that stick out & take up space. Enjoy the convenience of a charger built right into the wall! U-Socket is also eco-friendly thanks to its 5-star energy efficient design that auto-senses wattage and only outputs full power if something is connected to it.  

Molten Gold Perspective: This is definitely a product I see myself specifying in numerous upcoming kitchen and bath projects. Just about all of my clients have smart phones and tablets. This innovative outlet handles both, and has a sensor to reduce wasted energy aka vampire drain.  FYI, it will also charge your Kindle, digital camera or gaming device, as long as they have USB ports.

Rest of the Best

You can find out about the rest of the winning products on the KBIS 2012 site.  There are some great goods on there from some of the best in our business.  

01 May 2012

Coverings 2012 - Guest Post by Bill Buyok of Avente Tile

One of the best things about being a Blogger 19 member is the introductions to top-notch talent around the industry. One of those recent introductions by Paul Anater has come to beautiful fruition in this guest post by Bill Buyok of  Avente Tile  in Beverly Hills. Paul says Bill is The Guy to know in the West Coast tile industry, so who better to share his observations of Coverings, The tile industry show! Here are Bill's thoughts and pix. (Find a more complete bio at the end of the post, as usual!) 


Thanks to Jamie Goldberg for giving me the opportunity to provide a guest post. I've been following Gold Notes for several years. I look here weekly to find out what is happening in the world of kitchen and bath design. I'm honored to be sharing tile trends from Coverings 2012, one of the largest stone and tile shows in North America. I'm Bill Buyok the owner of Avente Tile, a company that focuses exclusively on hand painted ceramic and cement tiles. Let me start by saying, I love tile. I'll be sharing trends and some of my personal favorites from the show.

Let There be Color

I've been attending Coverings for over a decade. It's a yearly pilgrimage for me. I'm a big proponent of color and pattern in design. One of my biggest frustrations has been the ubiquitous 'sea of beige and white' tile. Granted, these shows are focused on the larger players and they have to make products that sell well in the U.S. market. But, year after year I wanted to see something other than beige tiles. It happened this year. I saw something very different at Coverings 2012. I saw color! A lot of color! There was accent color, bold colors and a strong emphasis on patterns. Stone, cement, or ceramic tile in neutral colors were 'spiced up' with a punch of texture. Texture is a great way to add interest and depth, and it's a trend I like.


Mosaic by Hirsh Glass

Probably not for the everyday home, this bold mosaic is certainly eye-catching. It's an excellent choice for a commercial application that needs to make a statement or pull you in. Now, that we have your attention. . .

Cement Tile by AguayospacerCement Tile by Aguayo

Cement Tile by Aguayo

I was very fond of this traditional cement tile pattern (left) in a bold blue. It was a floor installation by Aguayo Cement Tile from the Dominican Republic. Geometric patterns were common in both ceramic and cement tile.

Oscar and Izzy Tile Oscar and Izzy Tile
Organic Origins Premiered at Coverings 2012

For the pattern addict who is seeking something unique in bold contemporary colors, go talk to Oscar & Izzy. They also premiered their new quarter design line, Organic Origins. Their style is fun, unabashed and original. I'm glad to see tile artisans embracing color. You can use just a few for a border or accent strip. Do a whole wall if you aren't afraid to pack a punch!

Hand Painted Spanish Floor Tile Hand Crafted  Floor Tile

Arabesque 4 in Mission Red & Tuscan Mustard with Malibu Deco

ARTO Tile & Brick executes these Spanish and Colonial tiles with elan. They use classic patterns in fresh colors to create a timeless look. Their Malibu Tiles add interest with the right amount of panache. They pair well with the entire line of Artillo colors and finishes. Available in both concrete and ceramic tiles.

Original Missin Tile's Cement Tile in a Quail PatternspacerOriginal Missin Tile's Cement Tile in a Quail Pattern

Here's an example where East meets West in the world of tile and both provide color and texture. From Mexico, I liked Original Mission Tile's playful and colorful quail pattern in this new cement tile (left). From Japan, we find a soft palette that pays homage to texture as well (right).

Tiles get Texture

I'm excited about the prevalence of texture in tile. Smaller studios and larger players are incorporating texture. I saw lacy patterns applied with water jets to onyx and dark stones. I found travertine and coral stone in relief with interlocking patterns. The best example I found was by Galrão Group from Portugal. They transform stone into textured landscapes that are absolutely captivating.

group galrao wave tile
Galrão Group's Wave Stone Tile

You will also find large format tiles that aren't square at all. Apavisa features these tiles and they are amazing. I'm captivated by the wave-like walls on the Disney Concert Hall here in Los Angeles. These tiles have the same effect on me. They are obviously for wall applications. They would be a smart choice for an edgy and contemporary commercial installation.

Apavisa Captivates with Non-Traditional Lines for Tile

I was very impressed with the line of cement tiles from Sabine Hill. The patterns are exquisite in their simplicity and the colors are interesting without being brash. Sabine Hill brings modern and organic designs to the tradition of cement tiles. And, the tiles do exhibit a sense of texture that I can't quite explain.

Sabine Hill Cement Tile - Weave Colorway 4

Sabine Hill Cement Tile - Weave Colorway 4

arabersque concrete flor tile

Arabesque Cement Floor Tile

Again, we see a classic pattern in an updated color. Arabesque Cement Floor Tiles have low relief and are available from ARTO Tile & Brick.

Tiles Get Greener

Eco-friendly tiles were common at the show as manufacturers improve their tile-making processes and incorporate a higher percentage of recycled materials into a tile. There is a push to use local materials, when possible, to reduce greenhouse gases caused by transportation. I've seen improvements each year and it's a trend that will continue. I saw exterior tiles that allow for surface water drainage; but, my favorites were two new offerings from Wholesale Tile by Aguayo.

The first is Ecotile flooring that has a terrazzo-look. The tile face is a resin sealed composite and uses re-cycled mirrors, glass and building materials to achieve a terrazzo look. The tile back or body uses items like plastic bottles and tires. Ecotiles are design friendly as well. The made-to-order tiles allow designers to specify custom color blends similar to mosaic or field tile blends.

Ecotiles use Recycled Material & are Design Freindly

Ecotiles use Recycled Material

Being an advocate of cement tiles, I like the design appeal and creative approach that Aguayo uses in their new line, Fragments. Factory extras are cut into fragments creating a colorful mosaic that can be used as an accent strip on any wall. Fragments come in four colorways and two formats: square or pencil. These will look marvelous in contemporary kitchens as a backsplash.

Aguayo Cement Tile Fragments

Fragments by Aguayo

Technology Puts a New Face on Tile

The last five years have seen tremendous improvements in ink jet technology to decorate tiles. The technology to transfer photos or artwork to tile and maintain accurate color articulation in the glaze is here. I saw many vendors providing this service. The reproductions are astonishingly identical to the artwork. When I first attended Coverings, the "faux stone" tiles were garish. However, each year it gets more difficult (if not impossible) to distinguish tile from natural stone and wood. The real benefit is that you can have the look of wood but with the benefits of tile - great for wet locations like a bathroom.

Hand Painted Spanish Floor Tile

Wood Tiles by Ceramiche Coem & Ceramica Fioranese

Ceramiche CoemCeramica Fioranese are sister brands spotlighting interesting introductions. Check out Pietra Valmalenco from Coem and Cottage from Fioranese. Pietra Valmalenco offers a contemporary stone look whereas Cottage features a rustic wood style.

Ceramic Tiles with a realistic Wood Plank Appearance

Ceramic Tiles with a Wood Plank Appearance
Photo Credit: Todd Vendituoli, The Building Blox

Tile - Always a Classic

Trends come and go and then come back again. Good design is always in style. And while it's nice to see something new, I feel grounded when I see classic styles executed well. This tile achieves just that! These exquisite tiles are made in the USA by ARTO Tile Studio. Job well done!

Hand Painted Spanish Floor Tile

Hand Painted Spanish Floor Tile - A Classic!

Other Posts on Tile Trends from Coverings 2012

Hope you enjoyed my insights on this year's event. And, if you are still thirsty, here's more buzz on what is hot (and not) at Coverings 2012.


About Bill Buyok and Avente Tile:  
Bill Buyok, Owner of Avente Tile
Avente Tile Talk is a weekly blog dedicated to the use, design and understanding of hand painted ceramic tile and cement tile. Bill Buyok is the blog's primary contributor and has been publishing Tile Talk since 2008. His passion is hand crafted cement tile and hand painted decorative ceramic tiles. He noticed that artisan tiles were not commonly available to the general public. In 2003, Bill started his company, Avente Tile, to retail and market artisan tile world-wide. Bill loves to talk tile and you can also find him sharing his passion on Twitter and Facebook.

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