Episode 6 — Customisation

The Customisation of Tiles. Episode 6 delves into how the close relationship with the INAX factories enables Artedomus to give Australian architects and designers unparalleled access to custom ceramics, and how the development of custom tiles has, in turn, informed the development of new ranges.

Customisation is key to the practice of architecture and design, yet while custom products and materials such as carpet and fabric are readily available, customisation of tiles has not been typically an option. Through the relationship with INAX, Artedomus has been able to offer Australian architects and designers an unparalleled opportunity to customise tiles for specific projects.

“One of the great pleasures [in] dealing with INAX is their open-mindedness to produce special products or custom products for architects and designers in Australia,” says William Pearse, Artedomus Melbourne sales manager. While Artedomus has been offering custom products for a number of years, he explains that John Wardle, of John Wardle Architects, has been one of the architects to embrace customised ceramics most strongly.

Most recently, Artedomus collaborated with John Wardle Architects to produce custom ceramics for the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, “covered in thousands and thousands of oval shaped, what we nicknamed ‘egg’, tiles,” says William. Artedomus also sourced a custom tile for another John Wardle project, with a striated tile used on the bathroom walls, and the same size tile in a more structured finish used on the floor. “With his floor tile they actually sandblasted the tile after it was glazed, which is a very unusual process and it gives it more grip.”

Conducting sourcing trips to Japan is, therefore, extremely important for Artedomus, as it provides unique opportunities to discover the vast range of options available, to explore different techniques, and visit individual factories that specialise in particular types of tiles or glazes. “Architects and designers are used to having custom carpet samples or fabric samples, but not custom tile product. And that’s really something that we’re really proud to be able to offer, thanks to INAX,” says William.

At the Akai factory, the team were shown a custom pressed mould that had been created specially to produce a textured tile. “This particular factory also has a machine that can put five different glazes onto one tile,” says Yassaman Bahar, senior sales at Artedomus Melbourne. “Being able to do different glazes you’ve got a variety of colours, you can do mixtures, you can customise.” Customisation also presents opportunities for creativity that are key to expanding the ranges of tiles available. Many what are now bestselling tiles for Artedomus in Australia were in fact initially custom designed tiles.

“Every architect or designer, all of their work is around customising items for their clients, they custom design every aspect of people’s homes and projects that’s the nature of their skill,” says Phil Brenton, Artedomus managing director. “For us to be able to respond to that by being able to produce them a customised tile that will suit their project specifically – the architects and designers we work with find that massively appealing. We love seeing brand new products being used specifically for one particular job and sometimes we take that into our range. Probably eight or 10 of the products that we now stock at Artedomus are custom tiles that we designed for a project at one time or another.”