I have already covered the highlights of my trip to Southern Spain and Northern Morocco of which you can read more here and here. One of the most remarkable design feature of both places is the extraordinary amount of artistic tiles that cover benches, facades, steps, walls, fountains and floors in multicolor and multi-shape variations of that little ceramic piece most commonly known as "zellige".
When in 711 A.D. the Moors conquered Spain, they brought with them their traditions and cultural symbols, including the techniques to produce these gorgeous tiles, whose craftsmanship and artistic method is transmitted from generation to generation by maâlems (master craftsmen). One of the reasons why these tiles are so varied and their design is so intricate is because according to Islamic law, Muslims are not allowed to depict human shapes in art, hence the complexity of the geometric shapes which allows artisans to really run wild with their creativity.
With the passage of time, these tiles were found more predominantly in Morocco and in the Andalusian region of Spain. Moroccan tiles are amazing additions to create depth and perspective in floors or walls. Mixing Moroccan tiles with more contemporary design should be fun and exciting, and it will definitely provide a much more interesting visual layout than plain wood slabs or bare walls.
Despite the longevity that Moroccan tiles have enjoyed throughout history, they always seem to occupy a privileged spot in art, design and fashion. Céline chose Moroccan tiles as a background for their fall campaign (with Dara Werbowy photographed by Juergen Teller) and the cover of the September issue of Elle Decor shows an image of the Moroccan living room of Caitlin Dowe-Sandes who, with her husband, owns a Moroccan tile factory in Marrakech called Popham Design.
I found a very cool and non-permanent way of incorporating Moroccan tiles in one of my projects. I used this fantastic wallpaper designed by Stefan Hengst which was developed using the photographs that Stefan took in a trip to Andalucia. Everyone who sees it, loves it and wants to know where it came from.
Some excellent places to buy Moroccan tiles in the US (all of which offer local and international delivery) are:
- St Tropez Boutique in San Francisco
- Mosaic House in in New York City
- Amethyst Artisans in New York City
- Imports from Marrakech in New York City
- Villa Lagoon in Alabama
I'd leave it to my creativity and the playfulness of my clients, but I'm really looking forward to working with more Moroccan tiles in the fall.