Mosaic tiles are an artistic, creative and colourful way of introducing a touch of style and detail in an otherwise plain and practical living space. Mosaics have been in circle for many years, with the oldest mosaic found dating back to the third millennium BC.

Mosaics began in the historic region of Mesopotamia, which now corresponds to the area between Turkey, Syria and Iraq. From here, the trend spread across the globe through Ancient Greece and Rome to the Romans.

Mosaic tiles evolved throughout history, from the Romans’ basic floor tiling to more refined techniques, due to the expansion of the Roman Empire to the East. The Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantines, used special glass called smalti. Smalti are thick sheets of layered glass, with a rough surface containing small air bubbles.

Smalti is un-grouted, allowing light in to reflect and refract from the glass. Smalti often has a gold or silver leaf base, allowing the tiles to shimmer depending on what angle you view them.

Where Romans used mosaics as flooring, the Byzantines used mosaics to cover walls and ceilings. This was often done decoratively incorporating portraits of Emperors and Empresses. In contrast to this style, geometric mosaic art came from west Europe in the 8th


From geometric style mosaic art, came the decorative and mathematical form of tiling, using specially made ceramic shapes that are worked by hand to create a perfect tessellating mosaic. This gave us the basis for all tiling styles.

Providing unlimited opportunities, the durability and practicality of mosaics are ideal for tiling the walls and floors of bathrooms and kitchens. All that’s needed is a trusty set of hand tools and a healthy dose of creativity.

With their ability to curve around walls, mosaics are perfect for use on large areas of wall to circulate a room. The durability of mosaics also means they are totally versatile, in internal and external use.

Now mosaics come in many forms, the traditional mosaic style and the modern tessellation of shapes in tiling. Today the current trend is to find innovative and creative tiling patterns and techniques, meshing together both mosaic and traditional tiling.

ANCIENT INSPIRATION Anil Shemar, Marketing Manager at

building supplier BUILT/., discusses the evolution of mosaic tiles and how we

can use their history to help create eye- catching designs today.

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Rather than going all out with mosaic in a household, consider using mosaic tiling as a border or feature to enhance an area of the room. For an eye-catching piece of wall art, try incorporating the latest tiling trend of hexagonal mosaic tiles to add some traditional mosaic detail with a geometric modern twist.

The beauty of mosaic tiles’ ability to work against wall curves makes them ideal bathroom tiles for walk in showers. Current colour trends range from jewel tones to neutral. Both bold emerald green and topaz blue tiles are currently on trend to bring a bold marine colour pop to décor.

Bright blues and green colours reflect the traditional mosaic trend of bright bold colours used by the Byzantines in the smalti style mosaic tile art.

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