Only a dozen years ago, waterjet mosaics were the new shining star in the marketplace. Today they are simply everywhere, in countless patterns and colors. The technology behind them has advanced, too. Initially, automotive factory machines were used to cut marble into shaped pieces. This has given way to special CNC computerized equipment, designed to cut stone into patterns that have been programmed into the cutting machine. That level of precision allows pieces to be assembled quickly.
With artisans freed from the time-consuming task of hand-clipping small tesserae, marble patterns have become more accessible. As a result, they have taken on new meaning in interior design and can be used throughout the house: in the foyer, bath, kitchen, laundry, bar, mud room and any other place where pattern enhances the design. The choice of pattern, augmented by the color palette, can make either subtle or bold statements. A stone mosaic can also activate and define a space, much as a beautiful rug would do.
But waterjet patterns are not just confined to marble. They can incorporate glass, metal and terrazzo. Meanwhile, the scale can range from quite large (although the size is dependent upon the size of cut stone available) to petite. Many of the best designs include graphic patterns and elegant weaves, such as you might find in baskets or fabrics.
It is important to remember that there are great mosaics and very ordinary ones. The most beautiful designs share several essential strengths, starting with the quality of the cut (are the edges smooth?) and extending to the consistency of the material and the precision of the assembly (are the grout joints even?). We also need to talk about the expertise of the installer for waterjet mosaics. Has he color-balanced across the installation? Has he planned the cuts evenly? Has he laid the material in such a way that you cannot tell that it was assembled in sheets?
My advice: Choose the pattern and color with care and hire the best installer — but only after you have vetted the work he has done previously.