Ask someone what subway tiles are, and you’re likely to get a range of responses! They’re popular in today’s homes, utilizing the versatility of tile to enhance kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, and more.
Origin of Subway Tiles
The name, of course, refers to their original use in New York City’s subway system. Hard to believe, but this chic modern look comes from stations designed in the early 1900’s. In an era that was obsessed with hygiene, the early designers chose a wall and floor covering that could be cleaned easily. At the same time, they wanted it to have a familiar feel to people using the subway for the first time.
Their choice of glossy white rectangular tiles achieved both, and their use spread out of the stations and into homes across the U.S. Eventually, the popularity of subway tile expanded its working definition. We can thank the artists of the world for that.
New York City Transit Brings Art to All
If you’ve never visited the Big Apple, you may not know about the rich art offerings in each rail station. As a matter of fact, there are special websites and tours that explore the array of public works on subway walls.
Although the stations still utilize the ubiquitous NYC subway tiles for walls, they’ve been transformed with mosaic art. The harmonious blend is yet another version of what can be considered a subway tile.
Let’s take a quick trip to some of the mosaic wall art underground!
Located at Metropolitan Avenue/Grand Street on the IND Crosstown Line, this is one panel of the Signs of Life installation by Jackie Chang (2000).
Located at 77th Street on the IRT East Side Line, Robert Kushner’s glass mosaic wall art simply glows. Look closely, and you’ll see how the artist blended the geometric shapes of the smaller glass tessera with other tiles. It’s another expansion of the concept of what subway tiles are.
Over at the 81st street station for the Museum of Natural History, the natural world has invaded the standard white subway tiles! For Want of a Nail, a mosaic mural by the MTA Arts for Transit Design Team, uses a variety of mosaic designs, all depicting forms of animal life. Visitors can spot everything from dinosaurs to insects as they pass by.
At 66th Street/Lincoln Center, riders on the IRT West Side Line may feel that they’ve stumbled upon ancient Greek mosaic wall art. Artist Nancy Spero portrays the namesake of her Artemis, Acrobats, Divas and Dancers (2004) installation with all the intensity of a religious icon.
Grand Central Terminal hosts a large installation by Ellen Driscoll. As Above, So Below is a series of mosaic art pieces that combine the mystical subjects with subdued colors. For several, the jewel-toned tiles around them have most of the color.
Subway Tiles in Your Own Home
As you can see, the notion of subway tiles has been loosened up a lot in recent years. Whether you like the geometrical shapes, the notion of how easy it is to care for, or the way mosaic art blends so perfectly with a more neutral background, you’ll find inspiration.
Our mosaic tiles come in all the colors you can imagine, and your craving for bright designs and colorful, fun art can be realized. Tile is unbeatable for use on backsplashes, bathroom walls, and more.
Subway Tiles From Mozaico
If you felt inspired by our subway tile tour, we have some great news! We’ve pulled together mosaic designs from our own catalog, inspired by the looks above!
Did the over-sized, tropically bright looks of fruited branches catch your eye? This dynamic mosaic art has the same effect. Hummingbirds hover, seeds fly in the breeze, and the background is simple white tiles. Mosaic wall art like this looks wonderful with light tiles or even the rectangular style of NYC subway tiles.
Love the look of crashing waves on a monotone background? Check out this kitchen backsplash installation. It provides depth and a strong focal point behind the range, pulling out the blues of the surrounding tile work. Mosaic tiles are great in kitchens, where it’s easy to clean and they resist moisture.
Do the glowing golden tones of the floral mosaic art installation entice you? It’s not an impossible goal to add these metallic accents with glass mosaic wall art. There’s nothing quite like shimmering tiles to reflect ambient lighting and make a room feel otherworldly.
How about this piece for a very special place in your home?
Lush floral designs always look marvelous with traditional subway tiles, too. Here, one of our mosaic designs transforms an awkward bathroom corner.
Would you like all the magic of an underseas environment for a pool-house or bathroom? We have some incredible, lifelike designs!
Perhaps you now fancy your own lizards that will peep out from your backsplash? These geckos are ready to hang out wherever you’d like them to stay!
If you think your home needs their own regal goddess of myth, we’re happy to tell you that we have several lovely ones to choose from.
The contrast of black and white mosaic art with room interiors is unexpected. Were you drawn to the combination of mystical subjects and black and white in the Grand Central Terminal art? We have a couple of installations that will get your creative juices flowing!
This inset in a shower lined in conventional subway tiles is utterly contemporary. The lack of color adds real presence, and the fact that it’s a piece of mosaic art means that the water won’t affect it in the least.
Positioned over a bed, this large scale mosaic design means that there is no other need for art in this serene room.
Subway tile, as it turns out, is so much more than boring white! Thanks to the NY subway, it’s now associated with a variety of mosaic tile pieces. Have you ever spotted a piece of subway art that you’d like to try in your own home? Keep your eyes open on your next visit to New York City, and you may decide you’re ready to redecorate around a new piece of mosaic wall art!