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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

A Look at What’s New at GIO!

It’s been a while since we’ve touted our latest and greatest tile collections, but we’ve been stacking them up this year! It is our mission to offer you the latest in sophisticated and innovative tile products, and we’re proud to continuously offer a range of on-trend tile products to transform commercial design projects.

Our latest lineup reflects global trends for Moroccan inspiration, subway styles, stunning slabs, statement stones, and natural stone looks such as slate, limestone, bluestone, and marble. So, without further ado, let’s look at what’s new at GIO!

Petra Floor & Wall Tile

Slate, stone & rock influence Petra — a stylish porcelain stoneware collection in patterns, timeless tones, & two textures to answer to today’s trends.

 

Chalk Floor & Wall Tile

Our Chalk porcelain tile collection offers five hip classic concrete hues in field tile, mosaic, and trim —ideal for sleek, standard, or sophisticated spaces.

GIO Chalk, Tan 12 x 24 (Wall) and Terrazzo, Fleck Bianco 24x48 (Floor)

Mia Floor & Wall Tile

With Moroccan-inspired artistic decorative porcelain patterns in four classic-turned-trendy tones, Mia porcelain tile can be featured for fabulous floors or wonderful walls.

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

 

Colorplay Wall Tile

A color body, unglazed tile offered in all the necessary neutrals, every workhorse size, and polished or matte finish. Colorplay wall tile is durable and enduring for demanding commercial environments.

GIO Colorplay, Crema 2 x 10 Bright Field Tile

Chroma Wall Tile

Chroma wall tile offers a trio of finishes in perfect porcelain Pantone hues. The tiles are classically designed in a handmade artisan style blended with creative contemporary colors.

GIO Chroma, Taupe 3x8 Glossy and Matte Field Tile

Slab_48

Modern design & extraordinary large format porcelain panel displayed in lightweight, vibrant visuals. Slab_48‘s versatile, and stunning designs are ready to enrich any style of space.

GIO Slab_48, Onyx Green 48 x110 Polished

Varenna Floor & Wall Tile

Inspired by materials quarried near the luminous Lombardy region of Italy, Varenna is a dramatically veined duet of timeless black and white marble porcelain — perfect for a bold statement in any setting.

Room scene with GIO Varenna,Bianca 24 x 48 Honed & Rectified Field Tile

Slate_Ardosia Floor & Wall Tile

With four stunning slate interpretations inspired by South American origins, Slate_Ardosia is a timeless tile look that delivers in performance with two finishes, “grip” and “honed.”

GIO Slate_Ardosia, Charcoal 24 x 48 Honed & Rectified Field Tile

Mirabella Floor & Wall Tile

A lively limestone inspired by the quarries of Portugal, Mirabella offers a quartet of contemporary colors and subtle striations in quite the porcelain presence.

GIO Mirabella, Ivory 24x48 Rectified Field Tile

Crema_Avorio Floor & Wall Tile

An expression of prestigious Sicilian marble and rich veining interpreted in a plush porcelain palette, Crema_Avorio is offered in an array of versatile sizes, plus a honed and stacked mosaic.

GIO Crema_Avorio, 24 x 48 Polished & Rectified

Antico Wall Tile

Modern style & shape meet old-world aesthetics in this handcrafted, high gloss five-color subway stunner. Antico is offered in a sleek 2.5″ x 10″ size in five gorgeous hues.

 

GIO Antico, Bianco 2.5x10 Field Tile

Bluestone_Pierre Floor & Wall Tile

A beautiful, timeless limestone, Belgian Bluestone is a classic with rich colors, dark tones, and ancient fossils all rolled into one. Bluestone_Pierre is a stunning tumbled-edge porcelain interpretation.

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!

Making Work Look And Feel Like Home

The majority of the population is vaccinated, Covid restrictions are mostly lifted, and companies are having people come back to the office. Or they are trying to. Although many offices have reopened and are welcoming workers back, a large number of employees are pushing back strongly against the return-to-office. After so much time at home, a lot of workers just don’t want to go back. Remote workers have become accustomed to the comforts of home at work — and they don’t want to give ithem up. What are employers doing to lure them back, even if only part-time?

Companies that are asking people to come back are trying to make the transition as smooth as possible via employee perks and amenities, and beefing up their offices to make them more appealing. Even offices that offer remote work still need to consider how those employees will connect with others at the office, either through online meetings, phone conferences, or occasionally visiting the office in person.

Employee Perks

Some of the perks employers are offering to lure workers back are

  • The ultimate corporate-America perk: wearing jeans to the office (yes, even at law offices!)
  • Dog-friendly policies
  • Personal assistants
  • Free parking
  • Flexible hours
  • Happy hours monthly or biweekly
  • The classic lure: free lunches and beverages
  • “Elevated” office parties at fun venues with high-end food and drinks

Workplace Amenities

  • Rooftop decks
  • Outdoor spaces
  • Fitness centers
  • Yoga rooms
  • Communal spaces with “hangout areas”
  • Lounge spaces with games such as cards, board games, table tennis, video games, pool table
  • Daycare for children and  pets
  • Pods or booths for privacy

Office Designs With the Comforts of Home

The “Resimercial” design trend has been on the rise for the past few years now because it is believed that home-like environments in the office can lead to more comfortable, and, presumably, happier workers. And happy workers, according to current theories, work harder.

But since the pandemic, resimercial design has new significance and is more important than ever. Bosses are designing offices that look like your living room to get you back at your desk. These designs that look like home are often complete with sofas, fireplaces, and TVs. In addition to the perks and amenities, a home-like workplace environment could be appealing to remote workers reluctant to come back to the office.

Merging Residential and Workplace Elements

When merging residential and workplace elements, it’s important to understand that office still has to function primarily as a workplace. Residential aspects of design that are incorporated into the office must be flexible enough to be comfortable but should satisfy ergonomic needs as well as the integration of technology. And furnishings and surfaces that feel like home must be able to withstand the wear and tear of a demanding commercial environment.

Here’s a look at some of our tile collections that will lend a residential feel while offering low maintenance and durability for the long haul.

The Warmth of Wood

For injecting a homey feel into an office environment, wood surfacing is probably one of the top choices. But who wants or needs the upkeep to maintain them? We offer a range of wood-look porcelain tiles, from authentic wood looks to more artistic incarnations, all designed to deliver warmth and inject a home-like vibe into commercial spaces.

Umber

Umber porcelain tile offers wood’s classic look in four fresh tones interpreted in powerful porcelain planks and exterior paver–always on trend, inside or out. 

GIO Umber, Bianco 8x 48 Rectified
GIO Umber in Bianco 8x 48 Rectified

Barnwood

Barnwood porcelain floor and wall tile offers all of wood’s appeal and all of porcelain tile’s advantages in a trio of weathered timber with colors–rich details.

GIO Barnwood, Bianco 6x24
GIO Barnwood in Bianco 6×24

Modern

Minimalist style meets sleek wood grain our Modern porcelain floor and wall tile. This contemporary collection of porcelain tile planks is offered in four gorgeous, go-anywhere colors and designer herringbone accents.

GIO Modern Charcoal 8 x36
GIO Modern in Charcoal 8 x36

Char

Our Char collection’s Porcelain planks & rectangles echo the look of singed timber awash in a subtle metallic sheen. The wall and floor tile line is offered in four authentic hues and three generous sizes.

GIO Char, Auburn 12 x 48 Rectified (Wall) and Vintage, Petals Dark Grey (Floor)
GIO Char, Auburn 12 x 48 Rectified (Wall) and Vintage, Petals Dark Grey (Floor)

See all of our wood-look porcelain lines here.

Bring Nature In

Residential designers are always bringing nature and the outdoors into interiors, and the commercial workplace should be no different. Biophilic design elements, which replicate the sensations of the natural world, also contribute significantly to productivity.

Slab_48

A hot design trend that started in the residential realm favors big, bold stones that act as statement pieces. These bold natural stones in exotic species, unique or bold colors, and often with dramatic veining take center stage. For commercial interiors, of course, it’s much more practical to turn to the fabulous porcelain bold stone lookalikes for durability, ease of maintenance, and cleanability. Our Slab_48 is an extraordinary natural stone look proceklain with vibrant visuals, ready to enrich any style of space.

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

Mural

Mural brings the bold art of nature to interior designs with this daring collection of polished, 24×48 tiles in two stunning groupings–sumptuous marbles and two animal-inspired styles.

GIO Mural, Aqua Onyx 24x48 Polished & Rectified
GIO Mural in Aqua Onyx 24×48 Polished & Rectified

Residential Hues

Remember when offices were mostly beige? Not anymore. Injecting color into an office design scheme is a great way to amp up the residential feel, and we have the tile collections to do just that.

Freestyle

Freestyle lets you freely stylize your walls with dimensional decoration in a rainbow of cosmopolitan colors. The wall tile line comes in ten fashion-forward hues and 22 decorative patterns in bright and matte finishes.

GIO Freestyle, Violet Bright and Violet Bright Decoria
GIO Freestyle in Violet Bright and Violet Bright Decoria

 

 

Colori

The rainbow reigns in this colorful collection of porcelain primary hues. Colori offers the ultimate palette with a spectrum of options for any fanatic of chromatic design.

Colori Red 24x24 Matte Rectified
Colori Red 24×24 Matte Rectified

 

Companies have stepped up their game when it comes to getting workers to return to the office. Making the workplace feel like home is a big step in the right direction for luring and transitioning employees back to the office while increasing retention, happiness, productivity, and creativity in the long term.

GIO is your gateway to beautifully designed, strategically selected collections of floor and wall tile sure to fit your demanding specification requirements and unique style. We look forward to working with you!