New Takes on Tile

While sitting comfortably in a cushioned seat, I ate my lunch quietly, slowly taking in the surroundings and thinking of what this week's blog post was going to be. Turns out that Spice Monkey, the restaurant I was in, tucked away from burgeoning Uptown Oakland, had a previous life in the 1920's as the Robert Howden & Sons tile showroom.

Peering at the still completely intact tile surrounding its walls, floors, fireplace, and fountain, sparked the intention to celebrate the craft of tile-making and its rich tradition. This week we'll feed you a teaser of some tile trends from artisans in San Francisco and other parts of the globe.

LOCZIdesign kitchen remodel batik pattern with Fireclay Debris Series Tile


The kitchen tile design above by LOCZIdesign was inspired by the bold cultural batik prints and patterns featuring tile from Fireclay. They are one of the Bay Area's leading experts in producing recycled and sustainable ceramics. Their Debris series, made up of 60% recycled materials, offers a large variety of colors using locally sourced post- and pre-consumer waste materials.

Photo Courtesy of Made a Mano Tile Company


Now that spring is waning and we find ourselves swiftly flying toward the beginning of summer—it's no wonder that new tile trends are showing their brightly patterned faces. The thought of stepping out of the shower, or better yet a pool, feeling the cool ceramic tile on my bare feet, swarms into my imagination when I see this ultra fun, yet traditional tile layout above by Italian-based firm, Made a Mano. Their tile is crafted by what they call "free hand," an elaborate method that is drawn by hand on each tile using first a pencil, then a brush. The image below showcases their other form of hand-printing, similar to silkscreening, where the objects and shapes are pressed onto tiles, then the color applied by brush.

Made a Mano Tile Company: Above


Caitlin and Samuel Dowe-Sandes, owners of Popham designs, lived in New York and Los Angeles as a Filmmaker and P.R. Executive before relocating to Marrakech, Morocco in 2006. It was then when the couple bought a 250-year-old home in the ancient walled city, and began the process of renovation, that they began to sketch their own tile designs. The appreciation for the versatility and traditional elements of tile inspired them to start Popham Designs, showcasing a dynamic use of colors and pattens that depict their signature style.

Popham Design Tile, Via Design Sponge


Tile represents the perfection of the elements. It is an ancient cultural practice, the first clay tiles known to have been produced around seven to eight thousand years ago. It seems that since then, little has changed in essence, though new methods and materials have, of course, been introduced. Much tiling remains a hand-operated, labor-intensive process. Sitting here in Spice Monkey, seeing the new life and the new incarnations that the tile factory lends itself to, is testament to the fact that the tile we use may one day outlast us. And that feeling is actually quite comforting.


Photo Courtesy of Popham Design