The steel that makes up these 2"-by-8" wall tiles from Clé started life as part of a rugged shipping container. Each tile is hand cut with an electric grinder and can be used for interior and some exterior wall applications. Designed by artist John Whitmarsh, the tiles also come in a ceramic version that looks similar to the steel. cletile.com
Jennifer Brite is a design journalist and public-health scientist who writes about new products and sustainable design.