Talking Shop

Ruben Sorhegui Tile’s legacy in Naples

Antonio Sorhegui carries on his grandfather’s community-centric, design-forward legacy at 40-year-old Ruben Sorhegui Tile in Naples.

BY March 1, 2023
Ruben Sorhegui Tile
The 10,000-square-foot showroom has samples of the company’s large stock of glass panels, mosaics and large-format tiles. “This industry has just exploded,” Antonio says. (Photo Courtesy Ruben Sorhegui Tile)

When the late Ruben Sorhegui, a Cuban immigrant with an eye for design, launched his eponymous tile company in Naples 40 years ago, he started a legacy for forward-thinking, stylish work, bonding his family to the community for decades to come. Now run by his descendants—including grandson, Antonio— Ruben Sorhegui Tile is involved in a plethora of swanky projects (see the hardwood-look-a-like porcelain flooring at Third Street South restaurant The Bevy for proof).

Antonio worked various odd jobs there before joining his father, Tony, his uncle and cousins at the company full-time in 2021—five years after Ruben passed away at age 86. Today, Antonio wears many hats, ranging from design to team management. “It’s a little surreal that the community has been here for us decades before I was even born,” Antonio says. The tile industry has changed dramatically since Ruben launched the company, with technology melding form and function, making way for innovative materials and new applications of classic tiles. “This industry has just exploded, and we are constantly updating the showroom, adding new products and moving things around,” Antonio says. 

Up-tempo music fosters an energetic vibe at the 10,000-square-foot showroom, which features an ever-evolving array of high-tech, customizable tiles. Clients and designers can shop from walls of waterjet mosaics inlaid with metals; colorful ceramics with varied motifs, from the traditional subway look to modernist geometric cuts; cement; stainless steel; natural stone; and glass tiles that can be backlit for a moody scene. Faux agate panels, which mimic the undulating layers of sliced stones, lend an upscale nightclub vibe, Antonio says. “It has that extra wow factor, so there are a lot of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ when people see it.” He indulges in brainstorming with clients about color combinations and styles to bring their space to life. If the homeowner wants something extra-special, the team can create custom floor patterns or design an entire feature wall. “It feels like I’m continuing my grandfather’s legacy,” Antonio says of his collaborative, creative approach.   

Computer programming allows the company’s manufacturer to print high-resolution images onto handmade, weather and stain-resistant porcelain tiles. Although, Antonio typically sees clients opting for more traditional stone-like veining on their tiles. The result, he says, is nearly indistinguishable from natural marble or granite, and available in virtually any size and pattern. He likes to see statement applications, with entire walls covered in a single slab with perfectly book-matched veining or large-format floor tiles used to create a contemporary milieu.

The company prides itself on delivering form and function tailored to Southwest Florida’s needs. Porcelain tiles can come in gritty, slip-resistant iterations to minimize falls on pool terraces. And, the wood-like options—nearly indistinguishable from lumber—provide an ideal solution for coastal homes struggling with water and salty air. (Antonio and team now also stock sustainably sourced French oak flooring, produced by Italian craftsmen, for those who want the real deal.)

After Hurricane Ian left many locals without floors, walls and, in some cases, homes, the Sorheguis launched a program to donate select 18-by-18 porcelain tiles in creamy and sandy neutral tones to those in need. Those who qualify can preview samples online and call the showroom to register. “It was an apocalyptic scene in the days following the hurricane, and we wanted to help as many people as we can,” Antonio says, noting the program will likely continue for a few years. “It’s important to give back because we’ve certainly gotten a lot from this community.” 

Photos Courtesy Ruben Sorhegui Tile

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