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For The Home

Tile Styles

Author: Shawndrea Corbin
Issue: January, 2013, Page 56


Tiles are nothing new in the world of home design. In fact, the use of tile or tilework dates back to 5,000 B.C., when it was used in a very basic form, as flooring in Egyptian pyramids. The Greeks used tiles to cover their roofs. And the Chinese were among the first to develop tile-glazing techniques. Today, tiles are used as decorative eye candy for stair risers, fountains, bancos, kitchen backsplashes, murals and more.

In Santa Barbara, tile takes center stage in vivid, vibrant colors and classic terra cotta, evoking the California landscape and the region’s Spanish and Mexican origins. On the pages ahead is a sampling of tile styles ranging from Mexican to Malibu.

This custom hand-painted mural from Mexico is bordered by Mexican tile in a traditional pattern and can be found at Mexican Tile & Stone Co.
Mexico is rich in natural resources, including an abundance of clay. Specific regions are renowned for their colorful clay pottery and tilework. Talavera, one of the most recognized Mexican pottery designs, was introduced to the indigenous peoples by Spanish monks who yearned for the design work of their native Spain. Early tiles were primarily used throughout Mexico as decorative installations for churches and monasteries.

Top row: These bold tile designs from Mexican Tile & Stone Co. encompass the hand-painted charm and individuality common throughout Mexican design work.

Bottom row: These Mexican tiles from Handcrafted Tile Inc. demonstrate detailed patterns and design variations that are often specific to a region or artisan within Mexico.

Mexican Tile & Stone Co.’s Malibu tile collection incorporates signature hues of green and blue, colors that are reflective of California’s lush mountains and scenic ocean views. (Above and directly below)
In general, Malibu tiles are defined by their unique embossed texture. The tiles are made with an ancient technique known as cuerda seca, which translates to “dry cord.” The process of cuerda seca resists the flow of wet glazes and keeps individual sections of a design isolated until fired. This results in textured lines that separate matte from gloss glazes so that a tile may have both finishes. Malibu tiles are known for their high gloss and intricate clear-cut designs.

Photos (3) clockwise from upper right: Examples of Malibu tile from Tierra y Fuego
demonstrate curvy patterns and depth of color. Malibu tiles usually feature floral motifs but also can depict elegant designs such as scrollwork.

Granada tiles are often made of durable cement and are commonly applied as flooring. The detailed designs, a mix of points and curves, usually have matte finishes and are flat to the touch. Granada tiles tend to feature geometric designs versus the asymmetrical scene-styling of Malibu tiles or the more modest designs of Mexican tile.

The durability of Granada tile makes it ideal for fireplaces, entryways or courtyard settings. These Granada tiles from Mexican Tile & Stone Co. feature Granada designs represented through a Mexican colorway and technique.

This series of Granada tiles from Handcrafted Tile Inc. is made of cement. The “negative space” in the pattern forms a well-planned design in the center of the assemblage.

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