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GIO Looks at the Timeless Legacy of Belgian Bluestone

Belgian Bluestone, also known as “Petit Granit,” is a distinctive and high-quality limestone quarried in Belgium for centuries. The stone is also known by many other names: Pierre Bleu, Belgian Granite, Belgian Bleu, and Coal Limestone, to name just a few. Belgium’s history, architecture, culture, and economy are deeply intertwined with the unique characteristics and history of its extraction and use.

Origins and Geology

Carbon limestone (Tournaisian) with crinoids, Petit Granit (Public Domain)

Belgian Bluestone is a dark, dense limestone that dates back to the Carboniferous period (roughly 350 million years ago), which takes its name from large underground coal deposits formed from vegetation and large trees that grew in vast swamp forests. This stone is found in several regions in south Belgium, especially in Tournai and Soignies. It was formed in ancient marine environments, leading to the stone’s characteristic blue-grey color and the presence of fossilized sea creatures and calcite veins. The stone’s blue color varies in tone, from almost black to a powdery blue-grey, depending on how much carbon the stone contains and the finish applied.

Extraction and Use

The extraction of Belgian Bluestone dates back to Roman times, but it became more widespread in the Middle Ages. As early as the 11th century, it was being used extensively to construct religious and secular buildings throughout Belgium. This limestone was a popular choice for builders and sculptors due to its durability, beauty, and ease of workability.

During the medieval period, Belgian bluestone was used to construct cathedrals, churches, castles, and sculptures throughout Europe. However, its use was not limited to grand architectural projects; it was also used for more pedestrian elements such as foundation stones, steps, and paving stones.

Tournai’s Cathedral of Notre Dame is a cruciform 11th–12th-century basilica, one of the finest in Europe.

 

Belgian Bluestone sculpture: Crest of Liège dated 1592
Belgian Bluestone sculpture: Crest of Liège, dated 1592

Industrialization and Modern Use

The quarrying and processing of Belgian limestone underwent significant changes during the Industrial Revolution. In the 19th and 20th centuries, it was used for residential construction (door and window sills, flooring, and other architectural details) and public works, including curbs, street paving, and monuments.

Belgian Bluestone remains a sought-after material today, and the more fossilized marine life that is visible, the more desirable and valuable the stone! The timeless beauty of this material makes it a popular choice for flooring, countertops, and architectural features.

Since 1999, the name “Petit Granit” has been an Appellation d’Origine Locale (Local Appellation of Origin). Around fifteen quarries in Belgium are active today.

Cultural Significance

Beyond its practical uses, Belgian Bluestone holds cultural significance in Belgium and Europe. It symbolizes the region’s rich geological history and craftsmanship, and the quarries of Belgian Bluestone are a significant part of the region’s heritage.

Meet GIO’s Belgian Bluestone-Inspired Tile Collection

Belgian Bluestone is gorgeous, but if you are searching for a stunning porcelain alternative, look to GIO’s Bluestone Pierre. While our tumbled edge Bluestone Pierre evokes the look of Belgian Bluestone, with white calcite veins, coal lines, and visible fossils, it is interpreted in durable, easy-to-maintain, and easy-to-source porcelain.

Bluestone_Pierre
Gio’s Bluestone Pierre

Like What You See?

Great design starts with a sample — and samples are always free to the trade! It’s easy; just click here to submit your sample request.

Gio brings you only the finest commercial-grade products, hand-picked from global sources, based on our focused knowledge of what you need to transform commercial spaces. Contact us anytime – we’re here to work with you!

 

Image Credits

Cathedral of Tournai:  Jean-Pol GRANDMONT, Tournai JPG001, CC BY 2.5

Crest of Liège: Jrenier, Blason-liege-1592, CC BY-SA 3.0

GIO Looks at Design Trends: Calming Design, Warm Neutrals

Trending hashtags tell the unfolding design story: #calmingdesign, #warmneutrals, #healthyspaces, #sanctuaryspace, #softwalls. More and more, as designers (and consumers!) understand the impact of design on mental health, calming and soothing design strategies are being implemented in commercial and residential spaces. The idea is to help promote rest, a sense of calm, and relaxation in the spirit of mindfulness. Using design principles to reduce stress and anxiety isn’t a new concept, but there is a clear movement toward warmer neutrals, particularly in the workplace, to bring a sense of calm to commercial settings.

Click the images to visit the product pages.

Warm Greys

Warm grey, with it’s undertones of yellow, red, and brown, will give spaces a space a warmer, cozier fee. Unlike the cooler grey shades with blue undertones (which can be a bit depressing), the warm shades of grey can be very calming and relaxing.

GIO Amani, Light Grey Polished and Rectified 24x24
GIO Amani, Light Grey Polished and Rectified 24×24

 

Featuring GIO Workshop, Medium Grey 24x48 Honed Rectified Field Tile
GIO Workshop, Medium Grey 24×48 Honed Rectified Field Tile

 

Dependable Beige

With its soft and comforting tones, beige brings simplicity and warmth to spaces. This versatile neutral shade serves as a canvas for creativity, allowing other colors, textures, and visual elements to shine against a soothing backdrop.

GIO Chalk, Tan 12 x 24 (Wall)
GIO Chalk, Tan 12 x 24 (Wall)

 

GIO Chroma, Taupe 3x8 Glossy and Matte Field Tile
GIO Chroma, Taupe 3×8 Glossy and Matte Field Tile

 

GIO Jura, Light Beige 24x48 Rectified Field Tile
GIO Jura, Light Beige 24×48 Rectified Field Tile

The Best of Both Worlds: Greige

Another option for a warmer take on gray, is to go for greige: a combination of gray and beige for a soft neutral hue that balances warm and cool tones. Greige serves as the perfect neutral and can work in cool or warm palettes.

 

GIO Mirabella, Ivory 24x48 Rectified Field Tile
GIO Mirabella, Ivory 24×48 Rectified Field Tile

 

GIO Coccio, Silver Cenere 36 x 36 Rectified Field Tile
GIO Coccio, Silver Cenere 36 x 36 Rectified Field Tile

Creamy and Warm Whites with Texture

While stark whites can bring a clinical feel, warmer, creamier whites create spaces that feel relaxing, rejuvenating, and less chaotic. Designers are using textured soft whites to create a comforting tactility.

RIVEL by GIO Wall Tile
GIO Rivel, 3×9 Bianco
NEO_Brick wall tile —image of brick-look back wall in a bar
GIO Neo_Brick Bianco 2 x9

Earthen Pinks

Earthy, muted, clay pinks offer a sense of reassurance and can create a sense of balance in interior spaces.

GIO Mia, Bone 5x5 Cross and Terracotta 6x6 Star
GIO Mia, Bone 5×5 Cross and Terracotta 6×6 Star

Relaxing Wood Looks

Environments with wooden structures are  shown to cause a drop in blood pressure, lower the pulse, and have a calming effect. These healing effects are caused by the Biophilia Effect, the idea that spending time in a more natural setting can improve the physical and mental health of the people who live, work, and gather in the space.

GIO Veneer, Honey 12x48 Rectified
GIO Veneer, Honey 12×48 Rectified

 

Atelier Wood Look Floor and Wall Tile by GIO in Grey 8x40
GIO Atelier, Grey 8×40

Like What You See?

Great design starts with a sample — and samples are always free to the trade! It’s easy; just click here to submit your sample request.

Gio brings you only the finest commercial-grade products, hand-picked from global sources, based on our focused knowledge of what you need to transform commercial spaces. Contact us anytime – we’re here to work with you!

Big Trend: Big Tile

The past three decades have seen new manufacturing techniques and cutting-edge printing pushing porcelain tile into the forefront of design and innovation. Porcelain tiles are also getting larger and larger. Tiles equal to or greater than one square meter (almost 11 square feet!) are designated “Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs” by  ANSI A137. 3. Additionally, while standard-body porcelain tiles are thicker than 7mm, porcelain panels range from 3 mm to 6.5 mm, with the thicker slabs (used for countertops and the like) around 12 mm thick.

When porcelain panels first arrived in the U.S. from Italy, there were no product standards or guidelines for transporting, cutting, and installing the material. The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) soon realized they needed to create guidelines for installers and the architecture and design community. After more than four years of cross-disciplinary industry collaboration and 4,000 hours of research, in 2017, the TCNA unveiled two new standards for the materials:

ANSI A137.3, the American National Standard Specifications for Gauged Porcelain Tiles and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs

ANSI A108.19, Interior Installation of Gauged Porcelain Tile and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs by the Thin-Bed Method Bonded with Modified Dry-Cement Mortar or Improved Modified Dry-Set Cement Mortar.

Now that the industry had both product standards and installation guidelines for this new porcelain product, the mystery surrounding the panels was removed, with porcelain panels and slabs increasingly selected by designers and specifiers for both commercial and high-end residential projects.

Due to advanced manufacturing processes, the panels can be installed with minimal grout widths, and thanks to their large size, the number of grout lines is minimized, allowing for a clean, modern look. The designs available are nearly endless, and many patterns can be book-matched. Also, installing directly over other surface materials is often possible with proper substrate preparation.

Let’s look at all the great reasons to love porcelain panels!

Porcelain Panels are Stylish and Modern

Available in a vast array of colors, patterns, and finishes, porcelain panels offer a modern, luxury aesthetic.

Porcelain Panels are Durable

Unlike some natural stones, porcelain panels are extremely durable, water-resistant, scratch-resistant, and easy to maintain (with fewer grout joints to clean!), making them perfect for high-traffic commercial spaces. They are also UV – and weather-resistant, making them suitable for outdoor installations.

Porcelain Panels are Perfect for Sustainable Installation Projects and Economical, Too

Porcelain panels are a smart, sustainable surfacing choice as they are long-lasting, and their manufacturing process consumes less energy due to their reduced thickness. The thinner construction means less material is used, reducing the cost per square foot. It also means the weight of the panels is also lessened for more economical shipping.

Porcelain Panels are Versatile

Porcelain panels can be cut into virtually any size and shape; this includes varying thicknesses and even curved edges. Commercial designers have welcomed the panels and specify them as an alternative to standard-body commercial tile on floors and walls in elevator banks, reception areas, guest rooms, bathrooms, and more.

Porcelain Panels Offer the Possibility of Tile-Over-Tile Installation

Installing porcelain panels over existing floor and wall materials is often possible. Tile-over-tile installations are a boon for commercial projects because they create an excellent opportunity to eliminate demolition with its associated expense, mess, and downtime.

Slab _48

Slab_48 is an extraordinary large format porcelain panel offering vibrant visuals and stunning designs.

GIO Slab_48, Onyx Green 48 x110 Polished
GIO Slab_48, Onyx Green 48 x110 Polished slab

 

Slab_48, Calacatta Gold 24x48 Polished (Floor) and 48 x110 Polished (Wall)
Slab_48, Calacatta Gold 24×48 Polished (Floor) and 48 x110 Polished (Wall)

 

GIO Slab_48, Invisible Light 48x102 Honed slab
GIO Slab_48, Invisible Light 48×102 Honed slab

Statuarietto Bianco Floor & Wall Tile

Statuarietto Bianco offers bold sizes, beautiful marble veining, and a range of sizes for endless porcelain project possibilities. 

GIO Statuarietto Bianco, 30 x 30 Polished & Rectified (60 x120 slabs available)

Like What You See?

Great design starts with a sample — and samples are always free to the trade! It’s easy; just click here to submit your sample request.

Gio brings you only the finest commercial-grade products, hand-picked from global sources, based on our focused knowledge of what you need to transform commercial spaces. Contact us anytime – we’re here to work with you!