I noticed this on one of my Olympic 1920 Dining room photos. I was hoping someone with more knowledge on the tiles would be able to explain more on why, although the style is the same, the color seems to differ.
Its tricky to determine a color difference with it being black and white photos- but the pattern variation is obvious. I was fascinated to learn an identical floor tile recovered from the Titanic wreck and now on display at the exhibits is not as 'colorful' as examples Ken spotted on the Cameron dive. The tile recovered has faded over time. The color of the dining room floor tiles seen at the wrecksite almost seemed to be what was so prevelant in 1960s rock and roll concert posters- blinding, clashing reds and blues....
Sorry, I didn't mean actual color, as color would definitely be difficult to differentiate in black and white photos. What I was referring to is the obvious color difference in the middle 'snow flake' pattern in the tile. The one on the right is unmistakably MUCH lighter than the one on the right.
I don't think it's the light at all. There was another photo I was going to use, but under closer examination I decided it was the light. However here it is clear the 'snow flake' pattern in the 2nd tile is much lighter. You can even see the little diamond in the middle (which is darker than the snow flake). There was also a little diamond in the middle of the 1st one, but as they're the same color, you can't really see it.
Well, if it isn't the light, then likely what you're looking at is tile used to replace a section that got worn out. That would be an ongoing headache in spaces that were frequently used, especially such as the dining saloon. I've seen it often enough on ships that I served on, and the colours rarely match perfectly.
Looking at the photo above it looks like all the tiles in that row are missing the snowflake pattern in the middle. Maybe they had alternating rows of snowflake, no snowflake, snowflake etc. I'll have to look at other photos of the dining saloon to see.
What I THINK may have been going on with the tiling is that the rows of tiling without the snowflake design in the centre (the rows with the little diamond in the centre) were supposed to demarcate traffic lanes in the dining room. Tables and chairs would have gone in the snowflake areas, not in the diamond areas. This would have made it very easy to set the room's furnishings back up correctly after floor cleaning or polishing. The overall look of the floor would have been nicely coordinated, but the differences between aisles and furnished areas would have been made clear. It would have been important for all the furnishings to be returned to their exact places after cleaning the floor; the waiters would have had a hard time adjusting to a rearrangement of the furnishings in the middle of a voyage. Waiting tables is very high-speed, hard work, done under enormous mental strain- the slightest change in routine can make a restaurant's service ragged until everyone has had a chance to adjust.
As you can clearly see, the diamond tiles are in the aisle, and the snowflake ones under the tables and chairs, which is why I think this theory is valid. In decorating any commercial space, there are considerations that would NEVER occur to the average person, because most people think of decor only in terms of looks.
For all I know, you could be correct about the difference in pattern being used in the "traffic" areas of the floor versus the areas beneath the tables. However, putting the dining room tables back in the same exact place on board a ship usually isn't too difficult. There are sockets in the deck that receive bolts or locking pins at the bottoms of the legs or table bases; these are necessary to hold the heavier furniture in place in heavy weather.
If I'm wrong about the "traffic lane" theory, let's don't blame Damon, LOL! I could well be wrong about the applicability of this tactic to ship design, but it is used in land-based restaurants and hotel dining rooms. If Olympic-class ships had retainers for the tables, than another possible explanation for the lanes of "diamond" tiles might be that they were intended to repeat another grid elsewhere in the room, possibly the ceiling. In classical decors, this is sometimes done, often at a different scale than a grid found elsewhere in the room. An example would be a coffered ceiling with a three-foot modulus; carpeting for such a room might have a pattern with a six-foot modulus- twice the scale of the ceiling. I am not familiar enough with the ceilings in Olympic's dining room to say if there is a module there that could be repeated- I'm sure Daniel Klistorner knows.