Delving into Artistic Tile with Founder Nancy Epstein

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Marble mosaics.
Sail Fete, a polished stone mosaic.

Marble mosaics.

Sail Fete, a polished stone mosaic.

Artistic Tile was founded in 1987 by its CEO Nancy Epstein. In the more than 30 years the company has been in business, they have flipped the paradigm of how we view and use tiles. From natural stones, to hard-to-find marbles, and modern classic mosaics, every style of design is within reach at Artistic Tile.

artistic tile
Triangolo.

Below, Nancy Epstein shares behind-the-scenes insight on some of the most beautiful collections past and present and so much more.

DOWNTOWN: We love that color is back! What are some of your favorite new trends with regard to color and tiles?

Nancy Epstein, CEO and Founder of Artistic Tile: Although I don’t advocate following the “trends” in the tile & stone industry, I am happy to see the paradigm shifting, and that designers and homeowners are welcoming colored tile back into their designs. Using colorful stone in interiors is actually nothing new; it’s present throughout some of the world’s most historic and prestigious architecture. When I saw Cipollino marble in my bathroom at the newly renovated Gritti Palace, I was really excited. I hadn’t seen Cipollino used for years. It took a while to us to find it, but it was worth the effort. We have just finished a mosaic blend of Cipollino, Lilac, and Calacatta Rosa, that looks so fresh—it reminds me of gin and tonic on a warm summer day, so delicious and refreshing.

Mosaic marbles.
Weston reintroduces the missing color in geometric mosaics: Rosso Francia, Cipollino, and Rosa Portogall marbles.

DOWNTOWN: In terms of patterns, are there certain design periods you are seeing a resurgence of? Which ones if so, and what do you love about them?

Nancy Epstein: I am not seeing an emergence of any periods in particular. We have always been drawn to Art Deco and Nouveau for organic shapes, and the Cosmati style, as seen on the floors in San Marco for Geometrics, along with the patterns of the ancient Romans.

DOWNTOWN: Tell me about Grand Gatsby (below)! We are obsessed with how the completely cool this design concept is—the tiles elevate the space.

Nancy Epstein: Design: Our pattern Grand Gatsby is actually inspired by an Art Nouveau-style pot I saw in a French museum over ten years ago, that I thought would somehow or another work out into a beautiful tile. I took photos of it (I accumulate a lot of pictures during my travels), and every year or so I revisit my collection of photos, each time with a new perspective. The Parisian pot was one reference I kept coming back to.

art deco tiles
The Grand Gatsby mosaic features dramatic geometry and an Art Deco influence.

Color: The reason we’re using multiple colors is because we really like the fact that these colors have come back into our lives, but in this case, the colors are used as accents, rooted in a very traditional Arabescato marble. This way, the pattern has color, but it’s neutral at the same time. And since it has multiple accent colors, you’re not locked into using a single color for the rest of your space.

DOWNTOWN: What is one of your current favorite patterns and why?

Nancy Epstein: Our Sinuous mosaic—it’s classic, it’s forever, it’s stunning, it’s beautiful, it’s decorative, it’s field, it’s all those things wrapped into one. You can never have too much of it. It’s on my bedroom, bathroom and home office floors. I love the way it glimmers in the sunlight. And I love how easy it is to keep clean. I enjoy owning my products, rather than them owning me. My busy schedule and lifestyle of constantly entertaining requires me to have low maintenance products. I never want to tell my grandchildren to be careful in my home; I want them to be able to run around and enjoy themselves.

marble mosaics
Space designed by Christopher Martorana in concert with Artistic Tile architectural rep, Alejandro Mejia.

DOWNTOWN: What would you like homeowners and designers to understand about how to transform a room with tiles?

Nancy Epstein: Tile can do more than just transform a room—it can transform you and your family’s lives and overall well-being. Choosing tile over other surface materials has many benefits that not every homeowner is aware of. First and foremost, natural stone tile endows a space with a timeless aesthetic that can be enjoyed for generations. You won’t have to worry about natural stone fading out of fashion or needing an expensive replacement every 15 to 20 years. Your stone will last forever, in fact, the more it is used, the more beautiful its patina becomes.

lavender marble mosaics
Artistic Tile.

It also promotes a healthier home. Because tile is anti-microbial, it’s more hygienic than other surface materials like carpet, which can trap allergens, smoke, and other pollutants. Tile and well-sealed stone can prevent wet areas from developing mold or mildew, and in dry areas, it can protect floors and counters from life’s inevitable spills. Many don’t consider using tile on their ceilings, but doing so can prevent mold, as well as beautify the space with a look that recalls the elegant styling of castles and cathedrals.

Tile is also low maintenance: Because a sealed tile surface keeps water, soap, and other liquids close to the surface, it facilitates in easy clean-up.

Artistic Tile.
Primal Caiman Palm tiles.

When planning a design or remodel, I’ve always said: design for longevity. Choose tile that you resonate with and that you’re sure you’re going to love for the next twenty years or more, because that’s at least how long it should last you. The installation of tile and stone is expensive. Install what you love. Design for inheritability.

Choose tile that creates the atmosphere you want to come home to, and that your family and guests can enjoy. It should be expressive of your taste and lifestyle, rather than what’s trending at the time. If you buy tile solely based on what’s popular now, you may regret it five years down the road, when the style starts to look dated.

DOWNTOWN: What is one of the most unusual yet stunning application of tiles you have ever encountered?

Nancy Epstein: Aesthetically, the mosaics of Victor Horta sing to my heart. I especially love the Tassels Hotel in Brussels.

Malachite tiles from Artistic Tile.
Triangulam Malachite Tiles. Design by Deborah Walker at SHM architects and Snelling Homes
Photo by Costa Christ Media.

But when it comes to application, although the tiles used by Gustovino are not so “special”, his use of tiles on vaulted ceilings is outrageously gorgeous.

DOWNTOWN: We love how fashion influences design and vice versa. Are there any current collections you can recall that were heavily influenced by the runway. If so, which ones?

Nancy Epstein: I don’t recall any of our collections that were influenced by the runway. But I can recall the runway being influenced by our collections.

Jazz Glass Treble Custom Blend.

DOWNTOWN: How long ago did you found Artistic Tile? How do you manage to keep world of tile so interesting and fresh?

Artistic Tile: Artistic Tile was founded in 1987. It was a business venture that first began in a small cabinetry showroom in Tenafly, N.J., which Founder and CEO, Nancy Epstein, transformed into a larger Kitchen & Bath business by introducing decorative plumbing, and later, tile, and natural stone. Over the course of 30 years, Artistic Tile grew to include 8 branded retail showrooms in major metro areas across the country, a 25,000-square-foot slab gallery just outside of NYC, and a network of over 200 dealers (retail partners) nationwide. Today, Nancy Epstein is still the company’s CEO, and is joined by her sons, Vice President, Zachary Epstein, and VP of Marketing, Michael Epstein; and by her cousins, Joshua Levinson, Wholesale President, and Lauren Cherkas, Retail President.

Sail Fete Artistic Tile.
Artistic Tile.

We’re driven by passion and a purpose, to make the world a more beautiful place, with innovative luxury tile, and to give back to causes we deeply care about. Our company’s core value of generosity is expressed in our philanthropic endeavors and donations to charitable organizations worldwide.

Beyond our drive, I’ve always loved world history, and I relish traveling the world, exploring historic sites and discovering skilled local artisans. Most of our proprietary patterns are born from these travels, where I find inspiration in everything from grandiose palaces to the remaining decorative details of ancient ruins. But we don’t exclusively look for inspiration in architecture —we also look to fabric, jewelry, and emerging motifs. In fact, we look to everything but tile to inspire our tile designs!

DOWNTOWN: What would be your best guess as to how many tile collections Artist Tile carries?

Nancy Epstein: About 50 collections across all materials, however, the majority of our products aren’t marketed as collections. They’re sold as individual patterns available in multiple colorways.

Blue ombre tiles.
Artistic Tile.

DOWNTOWN: If you could convince a client to go big with tile in one spot in their home, where would it be and why?

Nancy Epstein: It really depends on the client’s lifestyle, their values, and where they’ll spend the most time. For most, the most important place to invest in is the master bedroom and bathroom, as they are the most personal, they are spaces that you will use every day, and where you will spend time renewing and getting ready in. The design should be flawlessly efficient, with ample space and storage for products. The surfaces should all be tiled so that they’re durable, safe, and easy to keep clean in a room that will endure moisture, humidity, and hot hair appliances. The master bed and bath are the best rooms in the home to install a decorative mosaic on the floor, which can dramatically beautify and elevate the space.

DOWNTOWN: What can homeowners and designers expect from Artistic Tile?

Artistic Tile
Space designed by Komel Saed of Studio Eagle and Spaces Designed Interior Design Studio
in concert with Artistic Tile architectural rep, Alejandro Mejia. Photo by Mikiko Kikuyama.

Nancy Epstein: High quality. Products of permanence. Innovative designs. Highly customizable products. Timeless elegance rooted in antiquity. Knowledgeable and friendly design- minded sales staff.

DOWNTOWN: If you could outfit any room in your house with one tile, what would it be, which room would it be, and where would you place the tile?

Nancy Epstein: I already have, my master bedroom, bathroom, and home office, but if I were to add more, I would turn my entire living room floor into tile, and I would use our Horta pattern. The ceiling in my living room already has dropped onyx panels, supported by Mahogany beams, and is lit from above. However, removing my husband’s Czech glass  bar to replace our floors is an obstacle that I am not likely to able to surpass.

 

 

 

 

Field Tile from Artistic Tile.
Capital Denim Blue.