Pretty Dandy

Patterned Tiles

Patterned tiles are becoming an obsession of mine. Anyone who follows me on Instagram (prettydandybex), Pinterest, or twitter for that matter, will confirm this!

Since moving to Barcelona I have begun spotting and recording them while out and about around the city. I've long been partial to pattern, colour, vintage design and - in particular - Barcelona's Modernisme style and these decorative tiles fulfill all of those passions. I'm now keen to learn more about these beautiful objects, to find out more about how they are made and their history and whether they are still being used today.

So far I've established that there's a big difference between azulejos, encaustic tiles and the Barcelona tiles I love. Azulejos are especially famous in Portugal and are gorgeous, often hand-painted, glazed tiles. Encaustic tiles are often seen in Victorian homes and the pattern is produced with different pigments of clay.

The Spanish tiles I am particularly keen on are hydraulic cement tiles. This means that the colour and pattern is stamped onto a cement tile with a hydraulic press and then they are left to dry for around 6 weeks before use. They don't need firing and can be produced in large quantities, plus they are easy to keep clean.

When they were first invented in the 19th century the new process meant they were much more affordable than ceramic tiles and they began to be used in a lot of Spanish and European homes. This coincided with a large phase of building in Barcelona and the Modernisme movement, - a kind of Catalan version of art nouveau - which means there are some truly delectable designs still to be spotted around the city.

I'm not 100% sure whether all - or any! - of the designs I've collected on my travels are original Modernisme patterns, but they are beautiful and well worth preserving anyway. Enjoy the sinuous lines, muted colour palettes, bold geometric shapes and wonderful borders on these images of Barcelona floors.

Patterned tiles
This shot was taken during 48h Open House architecture festival in Barcelona. The building was the Conservatorio Superior Municipal de Musica built in 1916 by architect Antoni de Falguera i Sivilla. This room is at the very top of the building and no longer in use, but has the most beautiful (dusty) flooring in delicate grey, yellow and peachy pink tones.

Barcelona floor
Patterned floor tiles
These shots were taken in an apartment near the marina in the Gothic area.

Tiled flooring

Spanish tiles
This shot was taken in Gracia, Barcelona and is one of my favourites.

Pattern and colour
Taken in a bar in Sant Antoni.

Spanish floor tiles

Patterned flooring

Decorative tiles

Simple floor tiles
I like that these tiles are practically minimalist next to the rest!

Geometric shapes work well in a contemporary setting.

Vintage tiles

Used in an entryway to a bar in Raval.

Patterned tiles
In an apothecary shop - showing some signs of wear.

Palau Virreina
In Palau Virreina on the Ramblas.

You can even pick up a single tile, reclaimed, salvaged and packaged up with the story of where it came from:
Reclaimed tiles

If you're a fan of vintage design, like me, then I definitely recommend fnding out more about these beautiful cement tiles. They are a wonderful mixture of patterns and colours and really inventive. I'll be carrying on my quest to document as many as I can spot (and surreptitiously photograph) on my journeys around Barcelona. But in the meantime I'll probably get this book: Barcelona Tile Designs from Pepin Press.

Barcelona Tiles book

I hope you've enjoyed this exploration of the flooring of Barcelona. Just looking at the pictures makes me feel inspired and refreshed creatively. Let me know your favourite, or share a picture with me in the comments!

Date: 07 Jan 2014 19:33
Author: Becky
Tags: art inspiration interior design Vintage