Are These Bathroom Throwbacks the Subway Tile of 2016?

A simpler shape takes on the offset style, and may just unseat our (and your) go-to tile.

Are These Bathroom Throwbacks the Subway Tile of 2016?
Morten Holtum for Bo Bedre via Emma Reddington on Pinterest
Are These Bathroom Throwbacks the Subway Tile of 2016?

The trend started, like so many before it, in a Brooklyn bathroom. In Bushwick, Brooklyn, to be precise—the even hipper, and slightly grittier neighbor of trendsetting Williamsburg—in the palm tree-wallpapered water closet of a lightly tiki-themed bar. It was there, in the subway tile capital of North America, that I found myself gawking at a sea of glossy black square tiles lining the lower half of the walls.

Perhaps it's not the thing that would capture the attention of most loo visitors, but when you have a well-documented love/meh relationship with those ubiquitous white rectangles, this is the kind of detail you can't help but take note of. Slowly but surely, I started to notice those formerly loathsome squares, sometimes gridded, often offset, pop up around my design scouting haunts: in the work of a Dutch design firm (top) and when trolling the Lonny archives (above right), and even IRL, in, you guessed it, another Brooklyn bathroom. 

Subway tile is undeniably classic and chic, and has proven itself impossibly versatile, but it's also become a bit expected. A default, rather than the charming throwback it seemed a few years ago. Which is why, as these things are wont to do, what's even just a little bit old, is feeling delightfully new again. It's a slight shift sure, white rectangles to white squares, but lest we forget, we've been ripping these things out of our homes with a vengeance for years. Are we ready for a new go at the only-just-outmoded? Only 2016 will tell!

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