Zellige is the traditional method of making Moroccan tiles. Essentially, each tile is made up of tiny precision cut clay mosaic pieces. The pieces are each cut by hand and fit together like a puzzle. Once all of the pieces are in place, cement is poured on top to secure the pattern and create the tile. It is a beautiful and highly specialized craft, often passed down within families over generations.
Today, the traditional method continues alongside new methods of creating Moroccan-inspired tiles. Two of my favourite contemporary producers are Popham Design and Mirth Studio.
Popham Design, located in Morocco, creates stunning encaustic cement tiles. Their designs combine inspiration from traditional patterns with more modern motifs and colours. The method that they use is more contemporary, having made it’s first appearance in early 19th century Spain. Coloured clays are poured into cement tile molds, then pressed using a hydraulic press. The process is all done by hand.
In the photos above and below you can see various Popham tiles applied to different interior spaces. The effects are all so different, and so gorgeous!
Mirth Studio in the U.S. is applying innovative technologies to create patterned hardwood floor tiles. Their tiles offer the colour and detail of Moroccan tile, but wood provides a softer and warmer feel. This is an ideal product for flooring, especially in cooler climates.
Below, you can see a selection of designs by Mirth applied as flooring, backsplash and adhered to a cabinet front.
Moroccan tiles are suitable for so many applications, and the variety of colours and patterns are endless, and endlessly inspiring! I would love the opportunity to use more of it in upcoming design projects.