In 2000, artist Andrea Zittel established A-Z West, a testing ground for experimental designs for living. Aesthetic sensibility and "investigative living" come together in her home where she incorporates tiles with a strong graphic pattern that's repeated in other ways throughout the living spaces. Zittel originally created the tile patterns as gouache paintings on paper – she was interested in the repetition of patterns and their ability to create infinite surfaces. Inspired by early modern movements like the Russian Constructivists and DeStijl, the tiles also echo explorations into pattern and brick work by Josef Albers. Zittel says that she is particularly fond of the patterning's ability to camouflage a slightly dirty floor.
Morocco Ank van der Pluijm
This home is all about materials more than it is about what one typically expects from design. The choices have been made very carefully, and so it's natural that tile be an element that also grounds the solidity of the spaces while adding a decorative element that the other materials don't. The mix of green patterns on the side of the kitchen counter create a lighter visual interest where there would otherwise be a solid mass that wouldn't balance out the solid column to the right. In all the spaces, particularly behind the kitchen sink, the tile has been fitted together pretty tightly so that grout lines are not prevalent, allowing the variation in surface texture and color of the tiles to create the depth and pattern in the installations. This is especially important given that natural light is a major design element in all the rooms, and the tiles chosen with their inherently soft handmade feel are only enhanced by its presence. The looseness in irregularity of shape is fitting with the rest of the spaces, from the wooden reed ceiling to the plaster walls. Greens are a common hue, and in the bathroom the subtle pattern of different shades of green create a charming pattern band across the room.
New York, New York Alan Wanzenberg
Architect Alan Wanzenberg has used Heath tile in his projects for years, including in his own homes. Given that he lives and works in Manhattan, many of the spaces are tight, including his own former apartment, and the use of tile is a more discrete element in the space. When Alan found out that we weren't going to make the volcano red glaze anymore, he bought a few boxes of them in our classic oval tile and stashed them away for a spell. The result of this hibernation and rumination is the stunning wall over the kitchen sink area. It's far from tile used in the traditional sense, but tiles artfully placed in a setting (in this case, bands of painted wood and matching grout) to create a visually fascinating artwork. The block of groups of tile with changes in orientation and worked around both a window and a ceramic art tile are a great example of what you can plan out with new construction in creating carefully intentional layouts.
Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel
Sorrento, Italy Gio Ponti
We could go on and on about Italian architect Gio Ponti's masterpiece in the Hotel Parco Dei Principi. This space expresses so much of what we love about materials and design creating a sense of place. This iconic hotel, designed in 1962, is one of the finest examples of an all-encompassing Ponti aesthetic. The large white modern rectangular building is anchored to a cliff with majestic views of the sea. Ponti was involved in every detail of this hotel from the furniture to the lighting to the 30 different geometric-patterned tiles. What makes the overall design even more interesting is that Ponti pushed the idea of tile beyond the common form of flat tiles. In the reception and dining area walls are thousands of shiny blue and white glazed ceramic pebbles embedded in a matte white mortar creating an organic texture that looks as if it may have grown out of the sea. The shiny tiles reflect light to create texture on otherwise flat surfaces, creating modernist tile artwork that succeeds in blurring the lines between art, interiors, and architecture.