National Tiles

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nettletontribe was engaged by National Tiles to design their latest – and largest – retail and trade showroom. Located in the home-designer hub of Alexandria, this is National Tiles’ first entry into the Sydney market and they have done so in a big way.

Established in 1979, National Tiles is a family-owned company which has grown into one of the largest tile suppliers in Australia. While widely known in Victoria and other parts of Eastern Australia, nettletontribe took on the challenge to create the first National Tiles retail and trade showroom in Sydney and were briefed to go big!

The retail and trade areas along with a distribution centre are designed within a massive 8,770m2 existing warehouse structure. Around a third of the total area was to be dedicated to the customer experience which gave nettletontribe the freedom to expand on traditional retail design thinking. Despite the complexities of a pandemic-induced lockdown, we were fortunate enough to work collaboratively with the team at National Tiles through a series of productive design workshops. A brilliant crew to work with, the National Tiles team freed and encouraged us to push the boundaries on what could be achieved and were committed to realising the built form.

While the huge warehouse space provided creative freedom, it also presented the challenge to make a space that was at a comfortable scale for retail and trade customers. This is the main function of the suspended curved timber elements which soar from one end of the ceiling to the other. They serve to lower the height of the showroom and provide a sense of warmth through timber tones which contrast the industrial feel of the warehouse shell.

What really makes the experience here is the combination of classic retail strategies such as clear signage and carefully curated visual merchandising along with a hands-on workshop type experience for customers. Throughout the retail floorspace are interactive custom designed tables where customers are free to arrange their own finish samples alongside tiles which can be held in place with integrated slots in the tabletops. Forming part of the backdrop to the retail experience, sightlines to the adjoining trade centre and windows into the real workings of the distribution warehouse celebrate the hands-on nature and the huge scale of the National Tiles brand. And for the polished end product a series of immersive display pods or “style sets” were positioned along the huge shopfront windows to showcase National Tiles’ product offering at full scale to inspire customers.