There is something appealing when one stumbles across authenticity. I can remember when François and I first started Pavé and we were showing at Coverings. Men with their little black cameras taking pictures of our products just to return from where they came across the sea, to copy all our hard work and originality. I say to those men with this collection - good luck.
Pavé's Maison de Tunisie Vintage Wall Tile Collection takes 10 steps to achieve what we believe, a comparable tile to a real antique. Ten steps. Yes...we are crazy. But we would never create something we did not believe in ourselves. So ten steps later and two years later, we are have arrived to this point of authenticity.
Authenticity of what? We certainly did not recreate the wheel...these Tunisian, Moresque designs have been done and redone for over 3000 years! But...how flattering to recreate these same motifs for over 3000 years...why not Pavé? Pavé is picky. We will not create a new collection that does not exude who we are authentically. François's father being a professor for a time in Tunisia, he and his siblings lived in Carthage, Tunisia. He grew up among the Jasmin and palm trees, ate dates from the trees in their family's gardens and learned Arabic, writing the letters carefully with ink and plume. Here is in fact a picture of François (on the right, standing up) with his younger brother Emmanuel and sister Anne in their gardens.
But I digress. Whether one is French, Tunisian or American, there is something about these Moresque motifs that appeal to all our senses. Sometimes I ponder this. Why these designs? I, as well as François, like "chunky" designs, designs one can grab and hold with the eye. I am not pleased with over ornate motifs...they in fact make me dizzy.
Why 10 steps? The first few is simply making hand made European terra cotta tile - high fired and glorious, a quality without compare. From there, in our studios we do 8 more steps...and voilà! We have 19 different motifs that come in 8 different colors. This is where I step in...the American francophone. As a former French high school teacher, lived in France, married a French guy and our daughter's first language is French - I am still very much American. I get us. I know, without generalizing...but in general, most American decors welcome pattern...but not too much. Most American decors like color...but not too much! A touch, a splash. Thank goodness beige has been replaced probably by white - or by gray - but with an added zing, maybe paired with apricot or chartreuse. So in this collection, we were very aware of color. The colors still must seem authentic to Tunisia but translated ever so slightly for the American color palette.
Texture. Of course through a computer screen - you could not possibly know the surface texture of this collection. I will define it for you. It's like a patina glass. The decorative seems to be floating just underneath vintage glass with a slight crackle. And yes, crackle is overdone in the tile market - but this tile called for it. Period. The crackle is done elegantly and adds to the authenticity of this collection.
Another fun part of creating an authentic Tunisian terra cotta tile collection is in the names. I love naming my designs and colors. I fully believe a name for a certain motif and a name for a certain color is a necessity when trying to translate how I feel and view about our products. For me, our collections must speak to my soul or I will not have a passion for them. I have names like Femme Berber and Tunisian Wedding to Souk and Place Victoire. I have colors like oxblood, sky and sea mist. I envision myself in this country and using the right word - my mind almost believes I am there. I feel an openness - a big clear sky, a dark marine sea, a sea mist raised by winds, the sand beneath my feet, café one drinks that is rich and bitter...
This is just a sampling of the Maison de Tunisie Vintage Terra Cotta Tile Collection. If you would like to view the entire collection as well as all the names, colors and motifs, please click here.
So much is going on at Pavé...I have been quiet for awhile...but it's simply because François and I have been creating. Next up is a collection close to my heart, The Montmartre European Terra Cotta Flooring Collection. I added more designs and glaze colors. I will be in my studio photographing the lovely boards François has made for me. Look for that soon in the next blog and on our site. And something so exciting will be On The Road to Florence Wall Collection - Florentine elegance and color inspired from the 16th century with my little American twist.
We hope you enjoy our hard work and authenticity! Kudos to François, for without his incredible hard work and meticulousness, Pavé would just be pretty designs on pieces of paper. It is he who has tamed hand made European terra cotta tile. Period.
Pavé Tile & Stone, Inc.