Tile Styles: A Retrospective

Explore The World Of Tile

Tile is one of the oldest forms of decorative art. Widely used throughout history, many historically important examples still exist today thanks to its durability, technical properties, and visual richness. First seen in the Egyptian civilization in 4th century B.C., blue glazed bricks were used to decorate homes. We saw these blue tiles again on the Ishtar Gate in ancient Babylon in 5th century B.C. decorated with lions, bulls, and dragons on a strong glazed blue background. The gate is considered one of the Wonders of the World.


The Islamic Empires produced a thicker tile which was used widely in architecture as a covering for interior and exterior surfaces. Avoid- ing figurative images for religious reasons, the tile of this region and era favors strong, complex geometric designs built on combinations of repeated squares and circles, sometimes interlaced with arabesques. Florals appear too, often rendered as branching forms.


On the Iberian Peninsula, ceramic tile was introduced by the Moors in the 13th and 14th centuries, with the construction of the Alahambra Palace. By the 16th century, Portugal had fully embraced ceramic tile art as an art form and it started to appear everywhere. Known as Azulejos, Spanish and Portuguese painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework was found on the interior and exterior of churches, palaces, ordinary houses, and schools.


Greatly influenced by imported Chinese Ming porcelain in the 17th century, Dutch tiles from Delft were first created to line the interiors of fireplaces. Very popular in the 17th century, the tiles were usually decorated with exotic animals, sea creatures, flowers, mythological and biblical scenes.


Iznic ceramics are named after a Turkish city near Istanbul. The motifs were typically floral and geometric and the tiles had a special glow due to their quartz content and vibrant color. Iznik tiles were widely used to cover the walls and ceilings of mosques. Their acoustic qualities helped the sound of prayer to resonate and they also visually lightened the appearance of heavy structures.


Borrowing heavily from Islamic architecture and tile design, the patterns of Moroccan tile are colorful and intricate, often incorporating mosaic designs and circular, arched shapes. It is believed that the origin of the designs came out of artistic limitations for Muslims, who by strict Islamic law were not allowed to depict living beings and therefore expressed themselves through shapes.

The Last Word

Visit a Blackman Showroom to explore the world of tile for your home today. Glass, Ceramic, Porcelain, and Concrete tile is available at most Blackman Showrooms. Visit our locations page to find a showroom near you.

Taken from the Summer 2018 Issue of Blackman At Home Magazine 

Posted in Design, Trends


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