Enhancing a Timeless Trend

Since the opening of the New York City subway in 1904, the rectangular white tiles that lined the walls has become a common staple of public transportation hubs. The exceedingly versatile high-gloss ceramic tiles soon found their way into homes, appearing on the walls of bathrooms and kitchens across the globe, only to offer what many would consider today to be a timeless addition to any design.

Most people don’t realize this urban-inspired tiling trend can be replicated in imaginative ways, freeing homeowners and designers to tailor spaces to their own unique aesthetic and functional preferences. Let’s explore some alternatives to white subway tile that grant creative expression, enabling you to fashion a space that stands apart from the traditional subway tiling.


Unconventional Shapes and Sizes

Epitomizing cleanliness, white remains a common choice for kitchens and bathrooms, making subway tile a natural choice for these spaces. Veering away from this typical tile choice of kitchens and baths with horizontal brick patterning, designers are choosing innovative tile shapes to generate bold, refreshing statements. Modern designers are using hexagon-, diamond- or triangle-shaped tiles to create fish-scale or herringbone patterns that encompass entire walls, or graphic shapes that provide a focal artwork in a room.

Incorporating larger tile sizes are another simple way to make an effortless statement. Standard subway tiles have matured from the classic 3x12 to dramatically larger sizes and slimmer profiles, allowing for various installation opportunities. This creates an elevated design with fewer seams.


Deviating from the Norm with Walker Zanger

Inspired by architecture, art, fashion and nature, Walker Zanger, the world's most respected luxury stone and tile company, combines traditional tile-making techniques with a modern sophistication that transcends any singular design style. As a leading choice for design professionals and consumers, the company’s natural stone and tile products make it easy to take the subway tile trend to the next level. Walker Zanger’s Studio Moderne™ collection by Michael Berman, for example, continues to be the gold standard for large format ''architectural'' tiles. Derived from Berman’s exploration of iconic Californian architectural styles—from Art Deco to Palm Springs Modernism—this collection features ceramic tile in dimensions as large as 18” x 20”. Redefining both homeowners’ and designers’ perception of tile, Studio Moderne’s Fretwork Pattern Interlocking Field tile, available in Coconut Matte, Mica, Plaster or Ecru, embodies an intricate linear tessellation reminiscent of subway tiling. (Pictured: Tilt Galactica in White Gloss)


For more than 65 years, Walker Zanger has been curating elegance to become the world’s leading luxury brand in the stone and tile industry. Committed to excellence in the development of our handcrafted artisan ceramic tiles, terracotta, stone mosaics, glass tiles, inlaid decorative stones and metal tile accents that form our exclusive collections, our products can be found in luxury homes, trendy boutiques, lavish spas and resorts, famed museums and fine restaurants around the globe


To learn more about our collections and ways we can elevate any design, click here.