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There’s Subway Tile, and then there’s SUBWAY TILE!

There’s no denying that subway tile is a classic. The shiny white 3″ x 6″ ceramic tiles were the surfacing material of choice for the New York subway system that opened in 1904. It didn’t take long for these rectangular tiles to make their way into our bathrooms and kitchens across the country, where they have remained a staple of interior design for decades.

With over 100 years of popularity, it’s pretty safe to say that subway tiles are timeless. But as with many classics, it’s often a new twist given to the “expected” that makes the designs endure. And subway tile is no exception: on-trend colors, unconventional installation patterns, contrasting grout colors, and dimensional design are some of the modern alterations that are keeping this classic current.

Here’s a look at some fun and exciting takes on subway tile.

These oversized (4′ x 16″) subway tiles laid in a horizontal stack pattern transcend the ordinary to visually expand the small space.

Retro series 4x16 arctic white available in bright or matte finish
RETRO by GIO in 4×16 Arctic White, available in bright or matte finish

There is so much going here that takes this subway tile to a whole different level. First, the tiles are laid in a herringbone pattern, but there’s a twist on the twist: the Vs of the herringbone are turned so that the side is parallel to the floor. The off-beat pattern in a three color combo is anything but conventional and creates a fun, geometric look. And finally, dimensional tiles add a decorative element to the party.

Freestyle by GIO in 5 x 7 Bright with Decoria
FREESTYLE by GIO in 5 x 7 Bright with Decoria

The popularity of handmade materials can not be overlooked. These artisan inspired subway tiles converge old world style with fashion forward finishes for a look that can be timeless or trendy.

HANDMADE by GIO in Bronze, 3 x 12
HANDMADE by GIO in Bronze, 3 x 12

Traditional white subway tiles are forever classic, but we’re now seeing these tiles in every color imaginable. Give them a jumbo format, throw in some dimensional decorated pieces, and you’ve got wall tile eye candy!

Moda wall tile by GIO
MODA by GIO wall tile, 5 x 13D

Dimensional subway tiles are a daring and dramatic twist on the classic rectangle. These innovative 3D tiles will easily transform walls into works of art.

ARTÉ by GIO 3D subway tiles
ARTÉ by GIO in 5 x 12 Bianco

A twist on subway tile plus a twist on chevron – what more could you ask for to create a vibrant, dramatic look?

Retro by Gio Chevron

There’s no denying that subway tile is a classic, and there’s no doubt that subway tile is here to stay, thanks to creative innovations in tile design and the ingenuity of interior designers to seek new and interesting ways to take subway tile installations to new levels.

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!

Bigger Is (Sometimes) Better: The Forever Classic Subway Tile Has A New Look


NY SubwayA Brief History of Subway Tile

Long recognized for its durability and ease of care, ceramic tile was a natural choice for the walls of the New York Subway system which opened in 1904. The shiny white tile was selected for its durability and stain resistance, and the light color and high gloss made it a good choice to brighten the dark, subterranean spaces. This underground transit system can be credited with helping to popularize the use of these tiles in subways around the world. The material’s clean lines, enduring nature, and low maintenance requirements allowed it to emerge from the underground tunnels into our bathrooms and kitchens, where it has remained a popular surfacing choice for over a hundred years.

The Subway Tile Resurgence

Freestyle Subway Tiles in Purple
A fresh take on subway tile: Freestyle Bright and Decoria by GIO in 5″ x 7″

Though subway tiles have been a staple of kitchen and bath design for decades, with the traditional brick-patterned 3″ x  6″ white rectangles being a perennial go-to, the tiles have seen a huge resurgence in popularity in the first decade of the 21st century. But as with many classics, it’s often the twist we place on “expected” materials that gives the designs longevity. We now see subway tiles in every color imaginable, often with contrasting grout, and we’re no longer obligated to arrange them in a traditional brick (offset) pattern–herringbone, crosshatch and even straight-set are just a few of the ways designers have been adding interest and dimension to subway tile installations.

The Latest Spin: Big Is In!

Retro 4" x 16" subway tile by GIO
Big is in: Retro subway tile by GIO in 4″ x 16″

The latest spin that’s keeping subway tile on-trend is the larger format. These oversized tiles, as large as 4″ x 16″, transcend the ordinary and add subtle drama to any space. Long and linear subway tiles can visually expand the size of a room and as an added bonus, fewer grout joints mean less maintenance. If you’re looking to add an interesting twist to any design, go BIG!


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!

The Zig and the Zag on Herringbone and Chevron: The Trend Continues

Herringbone FloorWith the craze for geometric patterns and hard lines at full tilt in 2014, it’s safe to say that the popularity of herringbone and chevron designs that emerged in recent years is still going strong. These sophisticated zigzag patterns have been making quite a splash both in the fashion and interior design worlds in the last few years and are still being used everywhere, including floors, walls, fabrics and even furniture. With visually striking geometric lines, herringbone and chevron patterns are unique decorative features, adding lively dimension to any space.

A Little Chevron History

The chevron pattern in art has been around for a while, dating back to ancient Greek pottery carvings from about 1800 BC. Fast forward a few thousand years and the chevron begins to appear in symbols of heraldry (like coat of arms), and later becoming a badge or insignia of rank used by military forces and police.

The Art Deco Movement of the 1920’s and 30’s, with its emphasis on symmetrical, geometric forms, brought the chevron pattern to the forefront and the zigzag exploded again in the 60’s and 70’s when fashion designer Pierre Cardin and the Italian design house of Missoni made it an integral part of their fashion collections.

Today, the chevron probably pattern owes its popularity to Target: in 2011, the retailer launched an affordable line of Missoni fashions which sold out in less than 24 hours and the Target.com site crashed many times. Many believe that was the real taking off point for the chevron/zigzag look.

A Little Herringbone History

Named for its resemblance to the skeleton of the herring fish, the herringbone pattern can be traced back to the Egyptian textiles and metalwork, having been discovered in the textiles and jewelry of ancient Egyptian kings. Around 500 BC, Rome began to build an expansive road system, called the Viae Publicae, to move people and products efficiently throughout the vast Roman Empire. The herringbone pattern was used in the road construction, as the interlocking pattern created a very resilient paving pattern. Over the years, nearly 50,000 miles of Roman roadways were created using this system. Herringbone has Celtic roots too: horsehair herringbone cloth dating back to around 600 B.C. has been found in Ireland, which explains why the pattern is still a traditional choice for tweed.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, many of the construction techniques of classical antiquity were lost and forgotten. Herringbone resurfaced again during the European Renaissance, becoming a desired architectural feature and soon after, the pattern gained relevance and became a choice for parquet floors.

Chevron vs Herringbone

A herringbone pattern is really just made up of interlocking chevrons. The difference is all in the zig and the zag:

Chevron is an inverted V-shaped pattern. The “pieces” are the exact same length and create a perfectly straight line on both sides.


At first glance, herringbone is very similar to chevron, but instead of the ends lining up with one another, one end overlaps the edge of the other, creating an entirely different look.



Whether it’s herringbone or chevron as your pattern of choice, these urbane geometric patterns are a perfect way to liven up any space. Despite the ancient roots and classic rectangular shapes, these exquisite zigzags are dynamic, distinctive and still relevant even in today’s most contemporary designs.

Many of the tile collections by GIO offer lean, plank-sized tiles that can be used to create beautiful and timeless chevron and herringbone patterned floors and walls. Let us help you take your designs not just from good to great—but from great to extraordinary. We’re here to work with you and would love to hear from you!