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clé + Primer: 3D Technology Brings Tile to Life

When we talk about tile we often used the term surface. Tile is not just about color but is the sum of many parts. In the case of a glazed brick it might be how the glaze interacts with the clay body to create a unique satiny finish while with a glazed zellige terracotta tile, the pits and hand chiseled edges reveal a very different surface.

With cement that has a more uniform finish, the emphasis may be pattern play. There is a lot to consider when picking tile which is why we always encourage customers to order tile samples when planning their next project.

If you’re in the very preliminary phases of designing your space and want to get a better visual on the finished look, a 3D technology developed by Primer serves as one way to experiment with different tile options. To add an even better idea of the finished space, the technology can provide an accurate depiction of all the surface features that make tile desirable. 


How Does the Primer App Work?

Primer’s proprietary augmented reality (AR) technology allows you to instantly preview tile in your space via a mobile app. Partnering with clé and other design brands (Farrow & Ball, Kate Zaremba), Primer’s 3D capabilities bring your whole space to life in a virtual setting—easing the burden of design decisions during those crucial preparatory stages.

Primer’s 3D artist, Brennan Letkeman, has designed a process to create color variations and surface texture for clé tile and its corresponding grout, including roughness, shimmer, and depth. “This is a huge help for giving the grout depth, and [giving] tile surfaces the natural dimples, bumps, and texture they would have in real life.” The app’s precise fidelity even takes into account real lighting, reflections, and shadows.

Letkeman illustrates the difference between a 2D photograph and Primer’s technology with a design approach often seen in restaurants: wallpaper with a brick pattern versus using real brick. “By itself, it’s flat. We could add lighting to [an] image directly, but it would ultimately be like printing out a photo of a surface rather than being a surface.”


A True Reflection of clé’s Zellige Tile

clé’s zellige tile, which is featured prominently on the Primer app, is a perfect model for this 3D technology. Zellige has garnered much affection in the last few years, and has been celebrated by renowned designers around the world. The Primer technology helps reveal the difference between hand-crafted clé Zellige and a machine cut zellige product.

clé’s zellige is hand-cut, with unique variations: chips, cracks, pits, and uneven chiseled edges. These variations are the magnificent imperfections that reflect the historical significance and artistry of this  tile, and using Primer technology allows customers to have a better understanding of zellige’s surface attributes.


Living Examples of Your Design Dreams

Primer is continuing to expand upon this technology and is improving its capabilities with each new software release. In this way, Letkeman’s pursuits mirror our own: that the end result is as true-to-self as the vision.

“We strive not only for visual realism but conceptual realism. No matter if you’re building a dream kitchen or renovating a bathroom floor, we want each tile to feel like a living example of how it might exist in real life… not just a picture or a color, a swatch or sample held up and guessed, but a true surface for you to touch and use every day.”

To experience the technology yourself and visualize tile in your space, download the Primer app today. Please note: Primer is currently available on iOS only

Download Primer App

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