Iconic Italian Style

December 9, 2022

After 25 years, we are learned what style icons are made of.

Dictionaries glibly describe what an icon is in a short phrase. Merriam-Webster, for instance, reliably informs us that it’s “a person or thing widely admired, especially for having great influence or significance in a particular sphere”. That’s the facts, but not the heart and soul of the thing. For us, it’s all that and more. A piece that has the “it” factor rises fast to stardom and stays there, with astonishing qualities that set new design standards along the way that others use as the benchmark. Recognisable. Memorable. Revolutionary. Timeless. Versatile. Forever appropriate. Representative of the zeitgeist of the era. Sometimes so user-friendly that it has melted into daily life.

And the enigmatic, mysterious “it” factor? Ground-breaking DNA – the universal icon ingredient. The Mini. The Coke bottle. London’s red post boxes. The Little Black Dress. The 1950s Stratocaster guitar design (which became so iconic it ended up becoming an emoji on

our smartphones). All instantly recognisable... and innovative, in the way they were engineered and in the way, they solved a design problem.

Let’s not confuse “iconic” with “classic”. For example, the Peugeot 202 is a classic car, but not iconic. Whereas the VW Beetle is both classic and iconic. Why? Because the Beetle broke the mould.

The iconic design checklist. Or how to identify if a design is iconic or not.

Is the design symbolic, and does it have a rich history?

Is the design unique and recognised immediately by many people?

Is it a design that has stood the test of time, remaining popular in the memory of those who see or use it?

Is it a design that set new standards in terms of style, manufacturing techniques, tech, quality, features, and benefits?

Did it set a trend or benchmark for others to follow?

Is the design emulated by others?

If the answer is YES to more than four of the above, you’ve got yourself a piece of iconic design.

The ultimate style icon.

No ode to iconic design can exist without a deep bow to the work of Coco Chanel, herself an icon. In fact, the very first icon of fashion. Venerated, influential, emulated, revolutionary, and representative of the era, with style that outlasted her century. She freed women from the oppression of their 19th-century corsets. Popularised the wearing of pants and men’s clothes. Her Little Black Dress concept (born in 1926 and still slaying in 2022), her Chanel No. 5 (still making us faint with desire), her ropes of pearls symbolising effortless, almost careless chic – we know and love them all. But did you know she revolutionised comfortable outerwear by using a material ONLY EVER USED FOR MEN’S UNDERWEAR? Jersey knit. What a shocker. What was once hidden and unmentionable became the ubiquitous benchmark of comfortable and stylish outerwear.

Another icon, Marilyn Monroe, when asked what she wore to bed, famously said: “I only wear Chanel No. 5.”

So, if it’s “iconic”, that means it stands out from the crowd of same-same, with attention to detail, flair, originality, bravery, rebellion. And simplicity. (As the philosopher Antoine de Saint-Exupèry said of pure design – “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”)

Sense check. Are we in fact being a little cocky applying the label “iconic” to our Italtile style? We think not. Because it’s not about us, but the brands we’ve chosen to associate with and their inimitable looks and design aesthetic. In fact, it’s a homage to the aisles of flair, innovation, stunning beauty, and inimitable, exclusive, timeless style in every Italtile showroom. Let’s take a walk through our icons of style.

Our Archetypal Heroes.

Mystic. The marble differentiator we discovered and brought to South Africa. Mystic is The Modern Marble Look that changed the game and typified the 2022 trend. This extraordinary ‘more-than-marble’ range from Italian tile wizards Sant’Agostino has recreated the true essence of marble, finding a new place somewhere between the evocation of landscape, cloudscape, dreamworld and reality. Mystic is what a piece of marble imagines it could be. Thanks to fearless imagination and ‘what-if’ technology, Mystic showcases what can be achieved when ground-breaking ideas are unleashed. The range is rectified, with 25 faces (25 individual designs per set of tiles to avoid repetition), and porcelain made more precious with a unique KRY Krystal surface. This guarantees a polished finished for an aesthetic that simply can’t be copied.

The Verona Tap Range. The transformative power of sheer glamour. Our Gilded Heroines of 2022, bringing previously unattainable glamour to everyday objects, to transform the science of washing into the sacred ritual of self-care. Rounded lines meet knurled detail (it’s impossible not to want to feel those touchable little grooves), softened with a matt gold finish. This is big, game-changing, extravagant romance as only the Italians know how to bring to life, underpinned by heavy-hitting waterwise tech and a 15-year guarantee. (Because when you fall in love like this, you want it to last.)

Rockstone INOUT. Our Safety Heroes. Mould-breakers in the world of slip- resistant tiles, our Spanish INOUT collection rebelled against the traditional formula of Rougher Surface = Safer Surface. Unlike many other slip-resistant tile surfaces, with randomly applied abrasives (safe, but rough to the touch with a hard-to-clean texture), INOUT is a technology that creates a fine, uniform coating of microscopic granules which is applied to the tile to deliver a smooth, slip-resistant, easy-to-clean surface. Velvety-smooth Rockstone INOUT represents the pinnacle of grippyness in a beautifully authentic stone look.

Iconic, eco-chic style that has stood the test of time. 

For 52 years, we’ve remained true to our ethos and beliefs. Staying relevant, constantly recreating ourselves, mirroring the zeitgeist of each era. Presenting the most stylish, high-end solutions to everyday décor problems. Intuiting the trends that will become timeless looks, while treading as carefully as we can upon the planet. With sustainable products of great and lasting beauty that will live with you for decades and remain relevant to the era. Contemporary classics that are also iconic.

Snaps to the two icons that immediately spring to mind: our Subway Tiles, the eternal children of the design world (which themselves are continually reinventing themselves as a category) and the darlings of our hearts, the divine Pavimento Antiqua, an exclusive Spanish patchwork that sells out, gets restocked, sells out, gets restocked – one of our strongest sellers for more than a decade and showing no sign of falling out of favour. An iconic Mediterranean-style patterned tile that’s the most sought-after in our patterned collection. Patchworks as a category remain forever on trend, and will ALWAYS bring their versatility, vitality and charm to the party.

Redefining the Industry. 

Once upon a time it was risqué to dip a nervous toe into the mysterious waters of digital design. Now, one should be nervous about NOT diving in. Well, that’s our take on it. 4IR is here, an exciting and sometimes startling landscape. We’ll help you venture into The Internet of Things with helpful, intuitive, timesaving products that have redefined their categories and are already iconic.

The Navia Cleanet by Laufen. Is it Artificial Intelligence or Intelligent Art? You decide. It’s Laufen’s most advanced loo-slash-bidet, with intuitive operation via the Navia app or a rotary button. Compact, rimless, ultra-hygienic and uber-modern, with an integrated descaling programme as well as integrated sound insulation for optimum privacy. Everyday AI at work for you. 

The Affirmations Sound and Vision Bluetooth Mirror. Another paradigm-shifting piece of 4IR design and technology for the smart home. Now you can see so much more than yourself – with a reflective surface that features dimmable LEDs, Bluetooth phone connectivity, high quality sound, temperature and time display, touch function, soundtrack skipping and volume control. Oh, and an energy-efficient demister. Obvs.

A mirror that’s created a new category. And it’s an Italtile first.

Emblematic quality. 

Quality, in and of itself, can become iconic. Sadly, in an era of same-sameness and lookalikes, the word “quality” has lost its significance. Now, we need to modify it with words like exceptional, rare and high-end. Surely, all these values should be evident in every item we buy? In fact, no retailer should have to flag it down; it should be built-in and self-evident. Shoppers have become wary of quality tags. Quality soap, quality chocolate, quality this and quality that. At Italtile, we’ve taken away the guesswork, by ensuring every item on our showroom floors and in our web shop offers the kind of iconic, good old-fashioned built-in quality we believe our Italstylistas deserve. Exceptional, rare, high-end. Dare we say, ubiquitous. With guarantees attached.

As we said, every single Italtile product refers. But perhaps, here, it’s the turn of V&A Baths and Jeeves Heated Towel Rails to take a bow. Makers who continuously craft exceptional ‘objets’ that have become category leaders: much copied, but never overtaken. V&A’s contemporary classic icons – tubs and basins that stand the test of time with effortless style and a 25-year guarantee. British in heritage but produced in the western Cape! Then, of course, there’s the world’s leading creators of the heated towel rail. Ask any style maven the name of the best heated towel rails of all time, and the answer will be “Jeeves”. Made right here in the R of SA from 304 grade polished stainless steel, beautifully energy-efficient and imported to luxury resorts, hotels and homes everywhere on the planet. We’re fortunate enough to have a few gorgeous models made exclusively for Italtile. 

Symbols of excellence. Our World Heavyweight Champions.

We’ve alluded to it for years, but there’s no harm in repeating ourselves. We retain our reputation by continuing to forge relationships with the very best designers and manufacturers in the world; people whose culture, beliefs and sustainability goals match our own. There’s the Swiss precision and innovation of Laufen sanware, the French je ne sais quoi” in the fine detailing of Wirquin shower channels. Then there’s our friendship of over a half a century with Ceramica Sant’Agostino the Italian tile sorcerers, with their inestimable creative genius. Last but not least our Spanish partnerships that bring us special flair and originality – wall tiles, floor tiles, superbly patterned tile ranges. All hand-picked for their global style and local appeal.

The Supremes.  

The guys who deserve medals. Our never-fails. Franke, who continually excite us with range after range of high-tech kitchen sink inspiration and have just blown up the kitchen tech status quo with their cutting edge Tectonite alchemy. Zack Accessories, founded in 1985, whose magnificent bathroom accessory ranges prove that the fabled science of German precision is an actual thing. And Global Stone, our South African partners who study world trends before they hit our shores and create stylish tiles and mosaics that would be at home in any super-luxe European villa. From their gorgeous little KitKats to their exceptional Natural Stone Cladding and eco-chic recycled glass Mini Mosaics, Global Stone never fail us with products that charm and seduce.

Playing in the Major Leagues.

We’ve grown over the years from being the little sister in the South African style family to players in the major leagues. It’s a constantly daunting prospect to be in the lineout with the best of the best, but we’ve learned that the only way to stand out is to continually show up with passion and purpose. Auditing our service levels; correcting our mistakes; deepening our product knowledge; keeping abreast of the latest design trends through staff training courses with Melanie Ewing, CEO of Chapters Interiors; continually improving the online Italtile experience with digital upgrades; keeping our LiveGreen path authentic; finding meaningful ways to connect with and uplift the communities around us.

We do it all because we honestly do care. Deeply. We might have Italian roots, but our hearts are right here in SA. Here’s where we’ve grown, and here’s where we’ll always give back. As the curators of iconic style. We do it to ensure you feel the love with every purchase and reap the benefits every time you visit an Italtile showroom or engage with us online. (And if your experience is anything less than iconic, we want to hear about it.)

Iconic style, all that keeps it a-sparkle, and all that it represents, is part and parcel of The Italtile Way. And it’s our privilege to offer it to you.

Live beautifully, in iconic Italtile style. Ciao!


P.S. As this is the last (blockbuster) blogpost of 2022, it’s a good moment to thank you for choosing us in 2022. Here’s to fabulous family festivities and a wonder-filled 2023.