decorative tiles

The awareness that the time-consuming process of remodeling or the construction of new space is completed, overwhelms me with fulfillment and satisfaction. The joy of such a moment, though sometimes anticipated for years, is what keeps you going and encourages you to withstand all the temptations and face all the problems you encounter through this process.

The moment when the floors are finally done is a turning point and the building site becomes the interior. When the new floor emerges, you know you’ve reached the final stage.

Following the social networks trends, where people gladly photograph themselves standing on the floors they like, I have recalled the various interiors I did since my career begun.

In recent years the interest in studying decorative tiles has increased. Those could be considered the most widespread ceramic product with the most varieties among all ceramic products. Historically, this product dates back to old Egypt and Syria, while the first flourishing of decorative tiles manufacturing in Europe begins in the Middle Ages. The very first forms of medieval tiles are known as mosaic tiles, tiny, different colored geometric shapes arranged in the form of a larger pattern or shape. The most intriguing medieval tiles, so-called inserts, were made by the clay stamping method, after which the drawn part was filled with white liquid clay. After drying, they were coated with a transparent lead glaze that would turn red-brown after baking, whereas inserts turned honey.

The tile designs were amazingly diverse, either entirely ornamental, with stylized floral motifs such as fleur-de-lis, or more figurative, animalistic, featuring horses, knights or a hunting scene. The beautiful patterns on the preserved tiles from that time can be seen in London in the Westminster Abbey and the successive ones are in the British Museum.

The Moorish occupation of Spain has transferred the manufacturing technique of all the thin glazed ceramics from the Middle East to Southern Europe. The ink was injected and the white glaze provided the perfect foundation for ceramic paints contouring. The technique was passed on from Spain to Italy and in the 15th century it became known as majolica, term derived from the word Majorca, the island between Spain and Italy, which was the glazed ceramic main market. The Italians made tiles in blue, green, purple, orange and yellow. The colorful tiles trend spread to northern Europe in the early 16th century, so Italian ceramists migrated to cities such as Antwerpen in Flanders. The most famous among them was Guido di Savino who changed his name to Guido Andries after marriage, and his workshop ,later passed on to his sons, became world famous.

In the wartime (1560.), potters from that area fled to Amsterdam and Haarlem. They passed on their skills to the Dutch, stimulating the growth of pottery at the beginning of the 17th century in cities such as Delphi and Rotterdam.

Although the Dutch tiles were initially similar to the Italian ones, they soon began to develop their style and, alongside the floor tiles, they started to produce wall tiles as well. Delftware became a well-known synonym for a distinctive style in decorating ceramics. They introduced typical Dutch motifs such as tulips, boats, children games and landscapes. After Dutch sailors brought Chinese porcelain in the 1620s, under the influence of impressive Chinese design, the previously colorful motifs changed into exclusively blue and white. The Chateau de Rambouillet museum in Paris is home to the most beautiful Delfts samples from that period.
In 1756 in Liverpool, John Sadler experimented with plate printing using copper plates, which completely changed the production method and became the most famous tile decoration technique.
The new phenomenon in interior design – wallpapers, overthrew previously the most important interior decorative element, the tiles.
They made a comeback in 1830s when replicas of medieval design originals were made, used mainly in the construction of large churches and palaces.

Significant event took place a bit later, the reception of the industrial design and mechanical production which led to the development of the Arts and Crafts movement and the establishment of Morris & Co., manufacturers of the best Victorian products.

The Secession fashion left its mark on the tiles production. After the First World War and even more after the Second, the backlash to excessive decorating begins and therefore plain monochrome mosaic tiles are increasingly produced. On several occasions, the attention was drawn to the design of ceramics thanks to Picasso, Matisse, Miro and Salvador Dalí.

In the last decade, there has been a growing interest in decorative tiles. Architects and interior designers have once again recognized the value and potential of the tiles, and are increasingly using them for all the functional and aesthetic reasons. Computerised production has changed the production mode completely as well as maximized the range of the tiles design possibilities.
Even though the tiles decoration was upgraded and shifted from the simple tools and methods used by medieval craftsmen to mechanized production and sophisticated computer design, the designers’ hand channeling the creativity continues to play a major role in the whole process. Long history and diverse technologies, both new and old, combined with the continuous need for tiles, have provided a bright future for this special segment of decorative art.








Lea Aviani

Date & Time

October 30, 2017