Colorful, patterned tiles have been around since medieval times, but they are currently having a moment in interior design. Patterned tiles are showing up everywhere, taking over floors and walls in a big way, bringing character and vintage charm to both commercial and residential spaces. Here’s a look at the history of patterned tile, and some tips on how to incorporate them in your interior designs.
A Brief History of Patterned Tile
Decorative tiles found in Egypt date back to 4000 BC, with the art of tile manufacture most famously demonstrated by the Assyrians and Babylonians in Mesopotamian architecture. By the middle ages, the opportunities for more sophisticated decorations, however, required the development of the tin glazes emerging from the Middle Eastern countries.
Islamic conquests spread the glories of Islamic art and architecture, which included decorated tiles, further north through Spain. Spanish pottery then spread through Italy via Majorca, hence majolica, and Faenza, noted for its faience. The trend then spread further north to Antwerp in Flanders (Southern Netherlands) and then into Northern Netherlands. By the early 17th century, Dutch tiles had developed their own special characteristics, with Delft pottery being the result of an attempt to replicate the beautiful blue and white Chinese exports.
The Victorian period in the US and Great Britain saw a great revival in tilework, largely as part of the Gothic Revival and the Arts and Crafts Movement. Patterned tiles were mass-produced by machine making them less expensive, not only for for churches, schools and public buildings, but also for domestic hallways and bathrooms.
Using Patterned Tiles Today
Today’s floor tile designs feature exciting and bold patterns and are being used in fresh, new ways to create stunning interior design schemes. Whether you opt for tiles decorated in the traditional Victorian style, Moroccan inspired tiles, modern geometric, or other patterned tiles, the key to working with this new look is to let the tiles be the hero of the space. Incorporating simple, streamlined, architectural furniture and lighting pieces into the space will create a modern look packed with character and artistic flair, with the patterned tiles adding a sense of nostalgia and quality craftsmanship to the design.