Art & Artists
Masters of the Southwest
art & artists
January, 2013, Page 38
Photos by Garrett Cook
The tiles shown here are part of Mexican Tile & Stone Co.’s Santa Barbara collection, which Robert Peddle (pictured) helped design, though he says custom tilework is his favorite to create. “I have the ability to draw and that helps me tremendously when creating something special for my customers,” he explains.
Tile designer Robert Peddle channels historical influences
Robert Peddle wastes no time sharing his vast knowledge of tile. As the director of design for Mexican Tile & Stone Co., he quickly clarifies that he doesn’t design the tiles, but instead designs “with the tiles.”
“When I started working with the original company, we only had one style, and that was the traditional Mexican Talavera,” he explains. “It’s fun, but I knew there was so much more out there.” Peddle’s creative nature and influence subsequently spawned a variety of new tile designs for the business, including Spanish, Renaissance and Malibu stylings.
Peddle has worked with tile for more than 20 years. He believes that a revival of 1920s’ Spanish Colonial architecture lends itself perfectly to elegant tilework, which is commonly seen throughout Santa
Barbara. “A lot of California’s style is linked to old Spanish and Moorish designs,” Peddle remarks. Tiles were once heavily used in hotels and mansions of the region as a symbol of luxury. “And California tiles can’t get away from the influence of Hollywood, either. They are very glamorous.”
He notes that history plays an important role in modern-day tile designs. California tilework, in particular, gained influence from missions and Spanish explorers. “I take historical designs and tweak them. So while some of the tiles are definitely unique, we also carry many traditional designs,” Peddle says.
The company’s tiles are glazed terra cotta and are hand-painted in Mexico using ancient methods. “They are blessed by the touch of a human hand,” he remarks. “They can bring a home to life.”
One of the biggest challenges Peddle faces is how to showcase completed tileworks for customers to view. Using a former residence as their showroom, and filling it with a variety of tile applications, allows customers to see how tile looks when it is installed.
“Tiles become part of a home’s architecture,” Peddle explains. “Each tile has its own identity, and that’s what makes them so wonderful.”
This traditional Mexican tile (above right) features a signature blue and white design. According to Robert Peddle, while tile styles often differ by culture, the principles of design remain the same, such as color, line and “having a sense of adventure.”
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