European Flooring

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Farmhouse Provençal European Terra Cotta Tile Flooring - The Yellows

Perhaps you are as obsessed as François and I when it comes to hand made European terra cotta tile...or perhaps not.  But if you would understand why these 3 simple photographs I will show you in this blog are the achievements of our lifetime.  (Not really - that would be our  7 year old daughter.)

However, If  I could take you behind the scenes - the back story on how we finally achieved this feat - would take 13 years.  The number of years we yearned, pleaded, tested and screamed for this clay.  And suddenly...we finally got it. would like to know how we achieved this remarkable achievement because, the reality is that Mother Earth does not like to produce yellow clay too often, but we cannot tell you :)

What we can tell you is that the photographs I have taken are just the beginning.  Waiting for this stock is like waiting on a shipment of truffles.   When the stock arrives - and a few boards are made - I will show you the beauty of this clay.  As hand made terra cotta tile connoisseurs - François and I are oh so picky.  We want the perfect texture, the satin patina, just the right aging for the edges not to be too this or that...and the colors...these are wheats and they are straws.  Colors that are warm and neutral - something designers have been craving.

The Farmhouse Provencal Terra Cotta Tile Collection will be more than a collection reminiscent of the warm days in Provence - it will speak of the warmth of everyday living - the cleanness when mixed with whites - the modern edge when mixed with grays.  It will hold a room hostage in beauty - it will be elegant, subtle, old and already story-filled. 

We will stock in two classic Provencal shapes and sizes - the 8" x 14" x 3/4" parefeuille and the 7" tomette.

Sadly, I don't have anything more to add.  But in the months to come - you can be sure I will be humming to Charles Trent as I photograph this tile properly.  This is just a hint of what's to come.

A Bientôt!
Emmi Micallef
Pavé Tile & Stone, Inc.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Villa Raffinato Italian Glazed Wall Tile

Although it's been a while since I last wrote, this does not mean François and I are not creating at Pavé.  In fact, this Winter we have been working overtime in developing new tile lines and improving on the ones we have already produced.  This brings me to Villa Raffinato Italian Glazed Wall Tile Collection.

By the name, one would think this is a tile that we simply import from Italy.  But that is only half true.  We do import this tile from Italy - hand made and fired following centuries old techniques.  It arrives as a bisque - where François and I marvel at what we can create with such a blank canvas.  That is how we feel about each of our terra cotta tiles from various European countries.  Whether it be from France, Italy, Spain and soon Portugal...each clay brings to us a flurry of ideas - and apprehensions.  What works on one clay from one specific region in Europe will simply not work on another.  The testing and developing of glazes to work with the various compositions of each clay is mind-boggling. 

This comes to mind another thought.  Home building, home decor, home renovation etc. is a highly competitive business.  There are so many companies out there competing for the buyer who will purchase and install their product.  It's at a point where the buyer at times begins to take for granted what is presented before them.  They can quickly compare tiles, prices, ETA's...but Francois and I know that they are not comparing apples to apples.  Comparing a mass produced relief tile with similar colors to say, one of our art tiles - hand made, unqiue and well-crafted can bring us to our knees.  Unfortunately, there are those who do not care about the authenticity and talent behind the tile.  There are those who cannot even understand the beauty of what they are looking at.  The deluge of tile - that replicates itself - meaning copies of copies that companies yet copy - make the buyer believe this is all there is.  This is what is suppose to be in their homes.  And when they see something different - to some - different is not mainstream - and have no courage to put something not mainstream in their kitchens.  How many Blanco Carrara marble kitchens have been installed in America in the last 5 years?  Gray and white - clean and safe.  Or the over patterned, over zealous, too saturated in color tiles that make American kitchens appear gaudy?  To say the least... it's a study in extremes when I peruse Houzz.

This brings me back to Pavé.  Pavé is different, but we would never bring something to market that I did not believe is European elegance.  We are inspired by European Art History combined with an American aesthetic. Our tiles bring subtly, color and uniqueness that yes, Mr. and Mrs. Smith probably won't have down the street.  OK - as an artist and manufacturer of fine art tile - I have said my peace.  For now :)

Our improved  upon Villa Raffinato Collection is something François and I are going to install in our kitchen.  If you have not guessed, I am a bit critical and picky about art tile - and I seek a tile that must adhere to a few points. First, will I get bored of it?  Second, is it over-the-top gaudy?  Third, does the tile have a nice edge, tight grout lines but still look vintage?  A pet peeve of ours is large grout lines with terra cotta tiles.  If the tile is well-made - meaning will not have to open the joint to have a plum surface.  And we do not like rounded corners, period.  Our Villa Raffinato Collection is the terra cotta tile that wins my heart (for now..for we do have coming On the Road to Florence!).  It's a gloriously, well-crafted hand made terra cotta tile - that can be seen with the tight grout lines. The glaze  - gazing upon the glaze - is like my eyes bathing in color - yet the color is interesting - with specks or crazing or crackling or various values or flashing - it's holding my attention for it's complicated yet simple beauty.

This is a collection that speaks of the Italian country side.  There are no frills - it's a life of hard work and immense beauty.  Colors are rich in the simplicity of every day living.

As for our kitchen, I like contrast of values.  So we will put the Caramel on the wall with a concrete charcoal counter top.  The walls with this color will make me feel warm when our New England gray is all that I see.  In summer, I will bask in this earth tone after spending my afternoon in our garden, still feeling the sun on my skin.  It's a tile that I will live with and it will take care of me.

After my Tuscan inspiration, I became hyper-focused on Florence.  Within the coming months, On the Road to Florence will be our next collection that speaks of the Florentine aesthetic and tones - with elegant patterns yet still not without a vintage feel.  Old world European elegance will forever remain in my heart.

A bientôt!
Emmi Micallef
Pavé Tile & Stone, Inc.