Ever since we started looking for tiles for our bathroom renovation, and came across these wild and trippy handpainted cement tiles at Moroccan Warehouse, I’ve found my head turning towards tiles quite compulsively.
What I find so exciting about tile is the way that pattern gets built up so compellingly, and often in ways that surprise, from single units that might otherwise look a little ordinary.
Handpainted tiles by Popham Design
One of our best wholesale relationships, which has been going since 2008, is with California ceramics company, Heath Ceramics (I visited their LA store recently for a Skinny laMinx pop-up), whose owners Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic have recently put together a book called Tile Makes The Room.
Here’s what Cathy and Robin say about why they made the book, and why tile is so exciting:
“It’s about a tile installation’s ability to drive design, and the questions one ought to ask when working with an element, like tile, that has limitless expression and opportunity….
We’ve never seen it as an individual piece in a particular size or color. We see the installation that’s brought to life, like a picture on a wall, or cladding a building or floor—an expression of the space and of the mood you wish to create.
This way of thinking about tile takes it beyond a building material, one you simply buy off the shelf, and elevates it to an art or craft.”
In other words, tile is so wonderful because it is an element for expression through creative combination. I came across a great illustration of this on Marrakech Design – a Swedish contemporary tile company inspired by Moroccan encaustic tiles.
On their website, they show how a simple element, like this tile called Casa…
…can be combined in multiple ways…
… eventually resulting in this kind of magnificent installation.
Visit the website’s layout page to see more examples of this kind of magic.
Via Instagram, I came across tile design company Leopardie Esperante, whose Gota Partida tile demonstrates how a simple shape, jumbled up, can make for a less predictable and repetitive, but no less compelling effect.
More at the Leopardie Esperante site.
Brazilian artist, sculptor and designer, Athos Bulcão (1918-2008), was a master of this jumble style, as you can see in these examples of his work (viathis fascinating post on Pattern Observer)
More at the Athos Bulcão Foundation
See more by Paul Edmunds.