Interior décor of the 70s featured bright coloured ceramic tiles inside and outside the home. Their popularity pertains to the functionality as well as their aesthetic appeal. The usage of tiles has been around for centuries together and the craft travelled, in the manner of other cultural exchanges, through trade. The decorative function reinforced its usage in public buildings as well as private spaces such as the kitchen and bathroom.
The plain field tile was soon reimagined to be used on living room tables to create an avant-garde piece of furniture. Adolfo Natalini and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia came together to form a design and architecture collective named Superstudio in Florence, 1966. They’re most remembered for reviving the grid tile pattern in the design of a table called Quaderna. The catch is in the execution of what looks like an assembly of square tiles is a silk-screened plastic laminate sheet printed with the grid design. They were driven by science fiction and urbanism, presenting the solution of an “anti-design” that was free of time, place, and need of excessive objects.
Ikon Kobenhavn, founded in 2016, executed designs that are reminiscent of Superstudio’s ideas. Founded by two sisters, Sarah and Amalie Thorgaard, in Copenhagen designed and produced tables made by hand with every square inch covered in coloured square tiles. The founders believe in the versatility of tiled furniture and its ability to resonate with a large number of people, enough for it to blend with any other style. Social media was flooded with their designs along with DIY versions of the same. Their table is often referred to as a “cult object” that never goes out of style. Next time you see a discussion over tiled furniture, you’ve got an interesting piece of information to share!
A similar visual strikes ones eye in the work of Zhanna Kadyrova, a Ukranian artist. Her project referred to as Second Hand responds to architectural and social memory of communities by sourcing material from unused spaces. The project materialised in Sao Paulo on observing the profuse use of rich patterned tiles in Brazil’s shops, cafes and homes. She also used tile scraps from abandoned Soviet-era buildings in her home country of Ukraine. A historic time is represented as the Soviet buildings were disregarded to erase all traces of the country’s soviet past. Her play with materiality lies in the use of heavy materials such as cement with tile mosaics to make clothing or bedding items that are otherwise associated with free flowing materials. Her work is also displayed as if hung on clotheslines, lone objects devoid of figures. The work in turn alludes to history as well as addresses notions of materiality, unveiling layers of reading and meaning through architecture and its element of tile decoration.
The usage of tiles can be multifarious and can be glazed or painted by hand with intricate designs or plain colours or manufactured in mass industrially. Our discussion spun around the subjective reading and execution of plain square tiles that further illustrates the possibilities of artistic imagination and power of innovation through time.
Image source: www.Moma.com www.Pinterest.com www.Zannotta.com www.Ikonkobenhavn.com www.kadyrova.com