As a relative newcomer to the tile industry, John Ryan is looking at it with eyes wide open. While he’s been involved in high-end bathroomware for the last few years, for Ryan, entering the tile market has been an interesting experience thus far. The business he took over in early 2016, MC Tiles, has been in the New Zealand market for 25 years supplying European tiles to resellers and end users via their retail outlets in Howick and Albany.

One thing that has struck Ryan about the industry is the lack of branding. As he says, people don’t generally associate tiles with a brand; the most important thing being the country of origin. “What it comes down to, is providing a quality product that is manufactured to a high standard, and that it resembles what it is supposed to – for example, natural stone. What’s central to our business is quality, and we are ensuring that we work with only the best suppliers predominantly out of Italy and Spain.”

Over the last year, Ryan has done a lot of research into the tile market, both here and abroad, and in September last year attended the world-renowned Cersai Fair in Bologna, Italy. A strong trend at the fair is the emerging large format market, with 800×800 and 900×900 available in many of the ranges, which is a focus for MC Tiles this year. The larger 1200×1200 tiles are also available, although these require extensive labour and installation due to their weight and size. “In commercial settings, these very large format tiles are fantastic. They’re ideal for expansive spaces in large architecturally designed homes or buildings, both on floors or as feature walls inside and out.”

Textured tiles is another area of expansion, and a focus Ryan says was evident at Cersai. “There are so many options with textured and decorative tiles. One of our newest products is a stunning pressed metal-look tile, which could be used as a feature in an entrance way or bathroom. We want to work with designers to showcase these stunning options available for them to wow clients. Combinations are endless and sometimes it just needs some imagination and things that you would never have dreamt of putting together can bring a space alive.”

One area in particular Ryan sees as an opportunity for New Zealand is more use of wood-look tiles. In New Zealand, wood-look tiles make up only a fraction of the market compared to Europe where they make up about one third of the entire tile market. Wood-look tiles are hard to distinguish from timber in appearance and have multiple benefits compared to timber including longevity and durability – they won’t scratch, mark, or fade and aren’t affected by water in the event of small leaks or high use entry/exit points like doorways.”

As the tile market develops, larger format tiles have become more commonplace. With longer lengths available, from 1200 to 1800mm, they become more aesthetically similar to timber. “We often have people in store struggling to believe that what we are displaying is not real timber they look that authentic.”

“The use of different-sized tiles in the same space is also an effective way to depart from the norm and create an area of interest. We’re seeing this more, with mismatched combinations of tiles being used in the same area creating stunning effects,” Ryan says.

MC Tiles offers products suitable for any budget. They currently supply tiles to all the major housing companies in Auckland. However, the architecturally designed homes and renovation market is a considerable part of the business via their retail showrooms and reseller network nationwide. The company can offer full service installation if required and on site measures and quotes in conjunction with designers and architects are welcomed.

MC Tiles has a showroom in Auckland specifically set up for designers and architects complete with workspaces, full product catalogues and the ability to lay out multiple tiles to show variance in design and colour.

If you’re in need of some inspiration for your next project whether it be feature walls, bathroom design, benchtops or flooring, get in touch with MC Tiles. Visit their profile on ArchiPro here.