Tile: From the Old World to the New

As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, last summer Heather traveled to Spain and Portugal to source handmade tile. While in Spain, she was inspired by geometric abstraction integral to the Moorish architecture found throughout the South. Much of this was seen in the hand-crafted tiles which adorn the walls, floors, and ceilings of both majestic Moorish palaces as well as the local tapas bars.

About 500 years ago, the Arab art of painting tiles known as azulejos was introduced through Spain to Portugal, where it arguably reached its greatest heights. There, tile work expanded from interiors to exteriors, often blanketing an entire façade. Abstraction gave way to figurative representation, with large scale, tapestry-sized compositions depicting historical events becoming the norm. The art form evolved with the times, producing gorgeous Art Nouveau and Art Deco tiles in the 20th Century.

Above are just a few images from Lisbon and Portimão. The second-to-last image is a detail from a custom azulejo fresco in the Roccoco style, which we had made in Lisbon for a client’s garden design in Pasadena. When the weather gets better, we’ll shoot some larger images. And the last image is another special discovery from Lisbon: Santini’s gelato!

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