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Endless Possibilities

Aug. 31, 2016

Erica Harmelin of Barton Partners takes us through Nemo Tile’s Philadelphia showroom where its vast product line is easily accessible.

Although the company has a long-standing reputation for subway tiles, Nemo Tiles’ new Philadelphia showroom is a smorgasbord of surfacing possibilities from glass to natural stone. Located in the heart of the city, the space is easily accessible to designers and clients alike, offering a raw workspace to iron out project ideas. Voted Best in Style two years in a row by the Philadelphia Style, the showroom features installations
and large-format samples to inspire the design process and nix any confusion over how the final product will look.

i+s met with Erica Harmelin, director of Interior Design at Barton Partners, to survey the location. Of the showroom, she says it’s an easily accessible space which helps to solve everyday design issues designers come up against. “Sometimes when the client needs to expand their mind and they ask, ‘What else do you have?’ you can bring them here and get a sense of what they like.”

Categorization is important in the Nemo showroom. Although tile and stone have broken the boundaries of where and how they’re expected to work well, particularly over the last few years, and has seen a surge of use in that time, many don’t realize the breadth in which they can be specified. “I had always used them for glass or floor tile,” Harmelin said, “but I went in [during the grand opening party] and saw the different stone applications and all the different colors, as well as how they mix things together. I had a general first impression of the company and what my go-to products were, but [the showroom] really expanded how I could use their brand.”

To show the expanse of Nemo Tile’s product lines while remaining useful to their clients, the showroom is split between tile types and stone to help better navigate the products.

The glass tile in the far side of the room begs to be picked up and moved around. Large-scale samples are attached to the wall with a hook system, allowing you to remove and carry them to the work tables.

“What I think is really great about the Nemo showroom is that every single one of their products is there in large format,” Harmelin  explained. “Instead of looking at a tiny book or a little chip, you can come here, pull out a large section and see it installed as well as the choices.” With trends in tile and stone relying more heavily on mixing various looks and types in projects, being able to layer large-scale samples allows a better vision of how the final look will come together.

Taking it a step beyond large-scale samples, the many installations in the showroom help designers to see the final outcome, including how the grout will change the overall look. “It’s inspiring to see how they put all the different tiles together. You can get inspiration you wouldn’t have thought of, and I always like seeing that,” Harmelin said. From floor medallions of cut stone to zig-zag shower tiles, the life-size installations not only add a sophisticated look to the showroom, but aid designers and clients in seeing how to best utilize the products.

In understanding the vast expanse of Nemo’s products, there are two groupings of pull-out wings which give the designer a better view of all the options in a line. A surprising array of bright, saturated colors—which Harmelin mentions she has been using in projects lately—are available.
These pull-out wings act as an overarching view of the product line, making it easier for designers to imagine what they may want to use, and are often the first stop for designers who are beginning the spec’ing process for a project.

“Even as designers, it can be hard to visualize what the product will truly look like with the grout and in a large format,” Harmelin explained. “When you pull out one of these large swinging doors, you can take a step back and really see what the end result will be.”

The most interesting thing about the stone selection are the cuts available. An inlayed floor design shows the complexity that can be accomplished with water-cut tiles, and a bold back wall shows a blending of stone varieties and cuts. While Harmelin is quick to point out that the Nemo team is open to tailoring any of their products, the stone is where these customizations really shine. “The stone shows all the raw material that you can use, and that it’s really up to your imagination and project.”

About the Author

Kadie Yale | Former Editor-in-Chief

Kadie Yale holds a BA in Industrial Design from San Francisco State University and a MA in Decorative Art History and Theory from Parsons the New School. In her role as editor-in-chief from 2015-2018, she led the interiors+sources team in creating relevant content that touches on sustainability, universal design, science, and the role of design in society.

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