Has sustainable manufacturing of tiles led to a compromise on design innovations?

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Sustainable manufacturing of construction raw material is the need of the hour given the impact construction industry has on the climate. The question that arises is, if sustainable manufacturing of tiles has led to a compromise on design innovations.

In today’s era, consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to tiles. There are multiple variants of shades, materials, and patterns, and the portfolio continues to expand as more players in the segment experiment with new styles. Tiles have not just become a preferred choice for flooring but owing to their versatility, many consumers have started using tiles for other surfaces as well. Over the past decade, the focus on optimising the tile manufacturing process and adopting sustainable manufacturing practices has taken precedence.

However, the question that came along was, will manufacturers be able to focus on design innovation while maintaining sustainability. The article deep dives into the past, present and future of the confluence of design innovation and sustainability.

In the past, double-charged tiles were preferred due to their long life and low maintenance. However, the process of making the tiles long-lasting did not allow manufacturers much room to play with design elements, and thus they were restricted to simple, basic themes. Instead of tiles, many other flooring options were also preferred, like marble, mosaic, and wood. While this allowed versatility, it also caused irreversible environmental damages, especially in the case of wood flooring. The focus back then was more on functionality, and the flooring trends remained the same. Therefore, there was a lack of design innovation for the most part.

However, over the decade, there has been significant evolution in this segment. Advancements in technology allowed manufacturers to incorporate new styles and print variants, and add other features like shine, non-porousness low maintenance, low maintenance, and long life. In fact, a lot of this was achievable while maintaining sustainability. Glazed vitrified tiles (GVT), one of the most popular choices for tiles today, incorporate advanced printing technology and allow the printing of numerous designs on tiles. GVT tiles are pocket-friendly and a much more sustainable option maintenance-wise. They are easy to install and are durable.

Due to their highly customisable nature and the wide range of colours and designs that GVT is available in, they can brighten the look and feel of any given space. These tiles can withstand a lot of foot traffic due to their abrasion resistance. From coloured to wood finish tiles, glazed vitrified tile fits the bill in terms of fulfilling properties of both functionality and aesthetics for consumers. Now customers can get tiles with different wood finishes printed on them and create that natural wooden flooring look inside the space without causing harm to natural resources such as wood.

The future for the tile segment looks more promising. The pandemic has enabled aggressive technology adoption across industries. Any design can be printed on vitrified tiles with advanced digital printing technology. Similar is the case with production facilities and research and development. Companies today are also looking to minimise environmental damage further while bringing world-class designs to the forefront, thus amalgamating design innovation with sustainability.

In conclusion, the focus on sustainability has only enabled manufacturers and building materials players to think out of the box and bring more innovative designs to the table. The traditional method of manufacturing tiles was very limiting in terms of the lack of design and the over-usage of natural resources. Even in the future, focusing on sustainable manufacturing tactics will only fuel more design innovation, not the other way around.

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