The Art of Ceramic: Portuguese Tiles
hen someone mentions Portugal a few things come to mind; port wine, Lisbon, seafood,beaches, and … tiles, or in Portugeuse “Azulejos”, deriving form the Arabic word “al-zulaich” which means “polished stone”. The tiles come in many forms and colours (most commonly white and blue) and are made from ceramic, painted, and glazed to withstand weather and wear. These colours were considered very fashionable at the time (from the 15th to the 18th centuries) and the vibrant blue colour was seen as a synonym of power and wealth, which is why you'll find them on important monuments and buildings all over the country.
Nowadays, Portuguese tiles are much more than a decorative motif, they are part of the country’s cultural identity. During the last couple of centuries, the use of azulejos expanded and today it is common to see them decorating churches, monasteries, restaurants, bars, railway and subway stations, palaces, as well as people’s homes.
Wherever you go in Portugal, you'll find a geometric pattern or a big wall telling a story. The decoration itself depends on the artist or architect. It’s very common for the Portuguese to tell stories about their history, religion, and culture through this decorative means, becoming pieces of public artwork.
This trend goes even further and tiles are now also being used in interior design or fashion. Designers like Roberto Cavalli (Resort 2013) or Valentino (Fall 2013) have used prints for their collection inspired by ceramics, similar to this Portuguese art.
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Written by Cristina - Product Development Assistant
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