Like all style, design fads come and go, and often resurface decades after their inception. Shag carpet, 1960’s style furniture, and cork are coming back into interior design fashion. Mosaic penny tile is emerging from its roots on the 1920’s bathroom floor, and exhibiting versatility in shape, size and color via some very notable manufacturers. When correctly executed, designs with penny tiles can be quirky, modern, and even elegant. From a sustainable perspective, tile is fighting an uphill battle against energy consumption.
Recycled wine cork tile. Designed by Jelinek Cork Group.
Tile is made from natural clay which is fired at a very high temperature, 2200 degrees F or more, which counteracts much of the “recycled content” that can be found in newer tiles. Cork keeps popping up in my search for new and interesting “green” products due to its harvesting methods and warm feel. Jelinek Cork Group, founded in 1855, started out making cork stoppers for beer bottles back when beer bottles were sealed with cork. Bringing the company’s history full circle, Jelinek now makes a recycled wine cork mosaic floor, which recovers used wine corks and turns them into a beautiful, subtle flooring material. Unlike traditional cork flooring, the mosaic flooring isn’t obviously cork upon first glance.
The tiles are made in a similar way to traditional tile, with a glue then grout process that allows them to be installed easily. Recycled wine corks are cut into disks 1/4” thick and then mounted to a paper backing. The resulting product looks like the currently popular penny tiles, but is softer to the step than clay tile flooring. Cork mosaic tile can be used in all the same applications as regular tile, making it easier to be eco-conscious when designing bathrooms and kitchens.