PAVING THE WAY WITH TILES…
Parkside is fast becoming an integral piece to many designer’s and architect’s puzzles when it comes to surface design. Sophie Harper met with Sales and Design Director Mark Williams to find out what sets Parkside apart from other tile companies.
Parkside was a small company that had been operating for around 30 years from its head office in Leicester until it caught the eye of tiling giant, the Topps Group, who bought the business in 2017. Since then, the brand has been given a bit of a shake up – from rebranding and a gorgeous new Chelsea showroom to a shiny new website and lots of new team members. It’s an exciting time for the Parkside brand, which now more than ever is carving out a path for itself as an industry leader – helped largely by the expertise and passion of those with the creative vision behind this new look – Mark Williams, Richard France, and Steve Lacey.
Each of the Sales and Design Directors bring a wealth of experience to the table and, together with the rest of the team, they’ve got more than 200 years’ experience in the field. And it’s this, the team’s expertise and insight, that makes Parkside so much more than simply a tile company.
Mark studied architecture and interior design and used to work for renowned design publication Wallpaper* magazine prior to working on set design and then for his family’s tile company, “It was my dad’s business,” he tells me, “my dad was in tiles, my grandfather was in tiles, so it’s in the blood really.”
Mark tells me all sorts of wondrous facts and figures about porcelain tiles, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Did you know, for instance, that porcelain is 30% stronger than granite and that NASA use small porcelain tiles on its rockets as it’s the only material that can withstand the heat of the blast? “Porcelain is the strongest manmade product available to use as a surface – it’s scratch proof, heat resistant, and stain proof, so it’s perfect for modern living – why would you choose anything else?” And I can’t find an argument to put to him. Particularly when he shows me the current collection in the Chelsea showroom, which includes examples of incredible tiles that look like wood, concrete, slate, marble, and even carpet. Really. I mean my eyesight is pretty spot-on, and even I hadn’t realised that the patterned flooring under my feet was in fact porcelain and not carpet. “We’re looking at developments where whole floors of buildings are being tiled, with quite a European feel,” Mark says, “that’s where I think it’s going to go with a lot of interior design, especially where we’ve got such amazing product available – porcelain is the way forward!”
Sourcing tiles mainly from Italy, Turkey, and Spain, Parkside can offer clients products they’re unlikely to see anywhere else. “When we’re looking for new products, I’m after something that’s different, I don’t want anything that mimics another design – it’s got to stand up on its own merit. It’s got to be interesting and something we haven’t seen before. The Italians every year keep producing tiles that are mind-bogglingly amazing. You think that you’ve seen it all and then you go there and you’re like, ‘wow’, it’s incredible!”
Parkside work collaboratively with designers and architects to bring a project to life. “Sometimes they have a clear vision of what they want, sometimes they don’t – every client is different,” Mark says. “We work a lot to designer’s and architect’s design briefs, often finding products that they haven’t ever seen before and then we liaise and work directly with the manufacturers.” Sometimes a designer might have a design in mind or have seen something online that’s inspired them, but it might not be applicable to the environment due to not having the right slip rating for example, which is important for the commercial and hospitality market, but Parkside can find the look they’re after whilst ticking all the boxes. And with substantial projects, the team can work with the client to create a bespoke product, with the ability to incorporate digitally printed design, waterjet cutting, and anti-slip elements into the mix.
From its roots in Leicester, Parkside is growing, along with the tile industry, from strength to strength. With teams specialising in restaurants and hospitality, high-end residential, and commercial, and with new showrooms in Chelsea and Leicester and soon to be in Clerkenwell and the Cotswolds too, it’s evident that this brand is striving for the number one spot in the industry… so watch this space.