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Zellige Tile for Commercial Spaces

A Brief History of Zellige Tiles

Zellige (also spelled zellij or zillij and pronounced “zee-LEEJE “) tile is a glossy striking Moroccan tile that has become very trendy in recent years. There are few tiles with as much history and influence as the Moroccan zellige tiles. These shimmery hand-made tiles have been around for thousands of years. Fragments of Zellige tiles have been discovered in Tunisia, possibly dating from the mid-10th to the mid-11th centuries, suggesting the technique may have originated in the western Islamic world in that period.

Zellige-making is considered an art itself, with master artisans passing the skill from generation to generation. Zellige tile training usually begins in childhood, with an average zellige apprenticeship lasting ten years!  The tiles are made meticulously by hand, crafted from unrefined clay found in Fez, Morocco. The artisans press the clay mixture into a square grid and let it dry out. Using a shaping block and hammer, they smooth the tiles and cut them into precise shapes and sizes. They apply enamel glazing by hand and only to the front of the tiles.

Zellige_factory n Fex, Morocco

Zellige Factory in Fex, Morocco

What Makes Authentic Zellige Tiles Tricky For Commercial Spaces

Authentic zellige tiles from Morocco are stunning, but the tiles can be impractical, especially for commercial spaces. Zellige tiles are beautiful because they are hand-cut, but it’s the hand-cut charm that makes it quite challenging to get a flat, even surface with these tiles— some of the edges will protrude rather than lay flush, making the surface difficult to clean. The tiles’ edges are also quite sharp, so the unevenness can cause them to snag things like fabrics or skin when wiping the tiles down.

There’s another installation issue that can be a hurdle, and that’s the grout. All the zellige installation guides instruct not to use a grout joint. The tiles should be butt jointed, with no spacers, right up next to each other. Ideally, there should be no space between the tiles and no visible grout. Getting invisible or nearly invisible grout joints with these irregular tiles requires a skilled installer with specific experience installing zellige tiles. These installation issues can create substantial labor costs.

With inflation looming over every project lately, material costs are a big consideration. Because zellige tiles are one of Morocco’s most valued and recognizable art forms, they are not inexpensive.  Adding even more to the cost, specifiers may want to increase a zellige tile order by 20-25 percent because a number of tiles will have imperfections, ranging from hairline cracks and edge chips to pits and chips throughout the glaze.

For a commercial application, and especially if the glazed tiles will be exposed to moisture, it’s best to seal the tiles to protect the grout and any cracks, crazing, or pits. The tiles will likely need resealing periodically as well.

Getting the Look of Zellige Tiles Without the Problems

Fortunately, ceramic zellige-look tiles are an excellent alternative for getting the amazing look of handmade Zellige tiles without the installation hurdles and higher costs. Our Zellige wall tile offers the look of the timeless handmade tiles at a fraction of the cost. Standard installation procedures apply, so it’s not necessary to hire a zellige expert to install them. These zellige-look ceramic tiles do not require sealing, and clean-up and maintenance are a breeze.


GIO zellige color swatches composition

GIO Tile is committed to being at the forefront of commercial design, bringing you only the finest commercial-grade products, hand-picked from global sources based on our focused knowledge of what you need to transform commercial spaces. Contact us anytime – we’re here to work with you!

Photo Credit: Dan Lundberg, Zellige factory-24116015119, CC BY-SA 2.0

Bringing the Indoors Out


GIO Thick 1.0 porcelain-paver outdoor scene

We’ve been ”bringing the outdoors in” for a while now, and outdoor living isn’t something new. Still, the pandemic experience has dramatically shifted our perceptions regarding the importance of outdoor space, compelling us to “bring the indoors out” in any way we can. Undoubtedly, the pandemic has inspired us to enjoy the outdoors in new ways.

Once a sign of exclusivity, rooftop spaces are becoming an essential part of any well-positioned office building, hotel, or apartment building. Any restaurant that can manage to do so has some outdoor dining, regardless of climate. Churches are creating spaces to hold outdoor services and events. Business travelers, who typically held meetings in hotel lobbies or conference rooms pre-pandemic, now want to take it outside.

Commercial properties are paying closer attention to what’s needed for people to spend more time outside and to make that time just as productive as time spent inside. During Covid, everyone wanted to get outdoors because it was a safer place to be. Now, landlords, developers, architects, and property managers are observing and analyzing how users engage with the landscape to meet emerging customer needs for wellness and well-being.

So, what’s in for outside design?

Though porcelain tile options have long been available for outdoor use, porcelain pavers are fast becoming a preferable alternative to natural stone and concrete. These thick, high-tech pavers are made from the highest grade porcelain and are specifically designed for easy installation over various foundations, including grass, sand, gravel, and standard mortar installations. They are also highly durable and easy to maintain:

  • Fade-resistant in harsh sunlight
  • Impermeable, moisture-proof
  • 100% frost resistant
  • Naturally resistant to stains
  • Mold and moss-resistant
  • Easy to clean with a hose, standard household cleaners, and low-pressure washing systems if necessary
  • No efflorescence (a crystalline deposit of salts often seen on the surface when water leaves behind salt deposits)

GIO is proud to offer a beautiful line of the highest quality porcelain pavers designed to withstand the most challenging commercial environments. GIO_Thick 1.0 is a collection of 12mm thick pavers available in an extensive range of looks to suit any design scheme.


Sparking Joy With Office Design

As economies continue to reopen, more and more workers are transitioning from the home office back to the traditional setting.  Commercial interior design trends present innovative strategies for creating physical environments that bring people back together.

While whites and neutrals used to be standard color choices in workplace interiors, many companies are now introducing bolder color schemes in their designs, whether renovating an existing office building or acquiring new office space. Every designer knows that color and mood are inextricable. The emergence of color in commercial design may indicate the pure joy born of gathering once more in person after two long years of separation and isolation. Even if it’s just a desire to add a touch of whimsy, vibrant hues are an excellent way for designers to inspire optimism in commercial interiors.

We still love our neutrals, and we have plenty of fabulous ones to choose from, but here are some great options to consider if you are intrigued with the idea of sparking joy through color in your next commercial office design project.


Colori is a colorful collection of porcelain primary hues — the ultimate palette with a spectrum of options.

Colori composite with red, blue, green


There’s nothing subtle about the shiny, saturated palette of this versatile subway tile line. Convey your distinct style with Pastel’s lush, gloss-infused hues.

pastel composite


Mural brings the bold colors of nature to your interior design with a daring collection of polished, 24×48 tiles.


Stylize your walls with dimensional decoration in a rainbow of cosmopolitan colors in our Freestyle collection.

Freestyle composite


GIO is your gateway to beautifully designed, strategically selected collections of floor and wall tile sure to fit your demanding specification requirements and unique style. We look forward to working with you!