What’s New? Interlocking Rock Tile

By Annette M. Callari, Allied ASID

Dunes, waves, drifting sand—these were the inspiration for an unusual new product from Modular Arts, Inc.  Designers and architects have long searched for a product that incorporates green design, organic forms, and fire safety all into one, and this is it.  These interlocking tiles are made ti_07of high grade industrial gypsum.  Each tile is 16” x 16” with a 1” maximum carved relief.  That’s what I like the best about these tiles.  The sculpted look adds dimension and character to any wall application.  They come in pure white but can be painted any color you choose.  My recommendation, after seeing the pristine beauty of the tiles, is to leave them white.  If you are installing them on a large wall, use down-lighting with colored gel filters to give them a subtle (and changeable) wash of color.  Now how’s that for creative?

These new small-scale tiles are designed for residential applications and more intimate spaces.  Modular Arts, Inc. is known for their large-scale panels made from a similar material.  They are highly specified in the world of commercial design, and you’ve probably seen their product in many hotels and restaurants.  Simply stunning, but the size of the panels was prohibitive for residential use—until now.

Consider how unique these tiles would be as a high-definition kitchen backsplash.  The rock tiles are interlocking which makes installation even easier.  Great rooms, home theatres, and especially master bathrooms can be dressed in style with these elegant tiles.  If you are considering something like this for new construction, both the panels and tiles need to be installed over drywall.  Although they are a good fire barrier, these products are not intended to substitute for the code requirements of drywall, and they are suitable for interior use only.  The wave-like designs are smooth and ceramic-like to the touch.  Since they are constructed of all natural materials, they are totally Green products with no VOC emissions. 

Several carpet manufacturers have introduced patterned carpets similar to these designs.  What a great option to be able to repeat a design form in your wall treatment or backsplash!  Continuity and repetition are two of the key elements for a successful design.  ModularArts has a wealth of information on their website modularArts.com, and under the “Interlocking Rock Panels” tab, you will see an inspiring gallery of their installations.  Remember, although these products were born in the commercial sector of design, the new tile introductions make them a viable cross-over for residential.  Yes, this will take a little ingenuity on your part to research the right product and learn more about proper installation.  But this can take your interiors to a whole new level, and the results can be magnificent. 

Floors From Bamboo

Submitted by Steve Cooper

amber horizontal standard floor 2Back when I was a kid with a summer day to kill in San Bernardino, California, a favorite place to escape with my buddies was the Bamboo Forest. This small stand of bamboo sprouted along a hot-spring-fed stream near the once-glamorous Arrowhead Springs Hotel in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. Bamboo grew into a 20-foot-high thicket. The sheer weight of growth caused the tall plants to bend over—creating a hard canopy about six feet above the stream. It was a great climbing spot for young daredevils.

The Bamboo Forest got me thinking about bamboo flooring. Plyboo and Durapalm are floors produced by Smith & Fong, makers of flooring and plywood. Plyboo is made from bamboo and the Durapalm from coconut-palm trees. While installation and everyday performance of these floors are similar to hardwood floors, the looks are completely different. The unusual grain patterns in these materials are unusual and exotic, making them strong choices for rooms with modern designs.

Both materials are environmentally friendly. Bamboo is formaldehyde-free and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which assures that the product comes from a responsibly managed forest. No irrigation, pesticides or fertilizers were used in growing the bamboo.

PLYBOO_FL5875PA amber flat grainDurapalm has it’s own bona fides. Old palm trees—those past their prime for producing coconuts—are the raw material for this flooring. The company buys these nonproductive trees directly from coconut farmers. The flooring is made without formaldehyde and installing it contributes points toward LEED certification for energy-saving, environmental design.

If you want a fresh look, these should be on your list. They offer character, durability, and an unexpected vitality. Step on it and get ahead of the curve.