5 Favorite Italian Tile Makers
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The world's largest tile show might not sound that exciting, but a couple of years ago I went to Cersaie , the annual tile show held in Bologna and quickly discovered that the Italians know how to throw a trade show (let's just say there was a lot of espresso, post afternoon drinks, a healthy dose of design celebrities, and lots of great tiles). So why are the Italians so good at tile design? We asked local tile maker and expert Deborah Osburn of Sausalito, CA-based Cle Tile to explain why. Here's what we learned: Italians have enjoyed a long history of tile making, and it's everywhere in their homes, bedroom floors included (rugs are something you put over tiles). Where the Italians excel is in combining a traditional craft with new technology: they've taken a labor-intensive three-step process (involving two rounds in the kiln) and turned it into a one-step operation where decorated clay tiles are fired in one go. In recent years, the ability to transpose digital images onto tiles has led to new creativity in tile design. While Osburn lauds these new technologies, her favorite tile, il Monile, is "completely and utterly handcrafted using old world processes." Below, we've rounded up five of the latest tile creations from Italy. Above: "Frame" from Refin premiered at Cersaie last year. Italian graphic design firm Studio FM has reinterpreted traditional design motifs (carpet, weave, geometric, majolica) onto super graphic 24-inch-square ceramic tiles. Italy Tile offers information on where to source Refin Tiles in the US. Above: Azulej by Patricia Urquiola is the designer's latest collection for Mutina; inspired by handcrafted majolica, the tiles are made of hydraulic cement. The eight-inch-square porcelain tiles are available in three neutral base colors (white, light gray, and dark gray) in a choice of nine patterns or as a patchwork combination of 27 different designs. Italy Tile offers information on where to source Mutina Tiles in the US. Above: Inessence by Provenza is a mix of recycled wood and stone-cement looks, a trend that has grown in the past few years. Italy Tile offers information on where to source Provenza Tiles in the US. Above: Lenny Kravitz collaborated with LEA to create the Goccia Three Dimensional Tile Collection, which imitates the features of moving water. Italy Tile offers information on where to source LEA Tiles in the US. Above: Osburne's favorite: the il Monile Byzantina Mosaic collection, is shown above in Moonlight (L) and Platinum (R). Hand crafted in an Italian artisan studio led by Adriano Ricchetti, the tiles are cut with a chisel and hammer, broken into pieces, and placed onto another glazed tile to create a mosaic of sorts. Noted for their super-saturated high-fire glazes, these tiles are the haute couture of the tile world. Available from Cle Tiles . See more posts on Tiles .