European Flooring

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Brushstrokes from Japan, a Hand Painted Minimalist Tile Collection

Reclaimed Belgian Bluestone + Brushstrokes from Japan, a Hand Painted Minimalist Tile Collection

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Working for oneself and with François gives me and us the freedom for creation. Creating a company, websites, videos, our mark in the world...and something we both love to do...creating tile collections. Creating a tile collection is daunting...because we really need a new tile collection in this market?  With thousands offered on-line and in tile showrooms - why add yet another tile collection?  For François and I - it is based on need to fulfill a missing gap of beauty that is not offered elsewhere.  We are two people who prefer to depend on each other than artists across the sea to create our ideas for us.  Our first idea was the Historic Decorative Tile Lines like our Delft Tile and Cuisine de Monet Tile Collections.  The word of note here is historic for our reclaimed and aged wood, stone and terra cotta tile floors merit a partnership with materials that swim in similar centuries and countries.  I highly dislike a reclaimed 18th century Dalle de Bourgogne French limestone floor with glass subway tile - or even marble cut water jet mosaics with old world motifs. There is simply a disconnect that takes away all authenticity to the regal material of the antique French limestone floor or the French reclaimed terra cotta tile floor or the aged French oak floor etc...
Nearly a year ago, François began his usual routine of suddenly coming to me with various tiles that he was testing and kiln-firing.  Seeing the beauty before me of this tile, of these tiles he was presenting to me - a collection began forming in my mind...something Historic Decorative Materials needed.  Color.  

Not only was color a need - but saturated color.  The contrast of stone, wood and terra cotta flooring - opaque surfaces with rich, aged patina would perform beautifully next to these reflective surfaces with deep color.  As a fine painter and an endless observer of the natural world - a number one rule to beauty is the contrast of aesthetic concepts: elegant/rough, spontaneous/restrained, calm/choppy, satin/texture, vibrant/subdued, dark/light, blurry/sharp etc...
Our Historic Decorative Tiles like that of the Delft and Monet Collections also display surface contrast - which is something I love.  A matte French reclaimed terra cotta tile hexagon floor with the reflective blue and white geometric of the Cuisine de Monet collection is endlessly elegant and classic.  The eye never tires of the marriage between white and blue with reds.  However...these new tiles offered something new to my eye.  The contrast of surface texture and the rich swirls of soulful color.
When I placed one of Francois' creations next to any stone, wood or terra cotta tile floor - my heart skipped a bit.  I was observing beauty.  Period.

When I design, I incorporate my left and right brain.  Where my left brain downloads all the rules of fine painting - and there are many! - my right brain is speaking to my gut - or my soul - do I feel it...?  Does it make me giddy or bring a tear to my eye.  This was what this collection was doing for me nearly a year ago in it's nascency.
As an artist, I have a deep appreciation for traditional Japanese paintings.  Their rules of fine art, so different from classical European training, make me feel at home. Left of center...where I like to be.  These paintings incorporate effects of light, expressions of moods and the play and placement of lights to dark on the canvas, among others.  One concept that I cherish is called, "Shibui" - which means "a darkling serenity with a hint of sparkle."  For those unsure of the word, "darkling" - this mean "relating to growing darkness".  To the birth of a hint of darkness. Shibui also means "the balance of simplicity and complexity that ensures finding new meanings and enriched beauty - that causes aesthetics to grow".  As François laid out the tiles before me...I was witnessing Shibui.

Ordinary to some perhaps.  But I saw beyond an obvious color.  The texture of the tiles were coming through like ripples on water or rustled taffeta fabric.  I saw also the magic that occurs when glaze meets fire in the kiln.  One color becomes nuanced with shades darker, lighter and rushing forth a third color birthed from whimsy of hand painting tile on clay.
As I saw more colors with Shibui at play - Japan herself - came to mind.  Her coastal waters, bamboo forests, stone gardens, gentle streams - these were the colors I wanted to see - not only see - but to feel.
 A year later...after so much testing - François and I decided on a eight color palette. That's it. 8.  And to add to that - knowing that the marriage of these eight colors with our reclaimed and aged flooring was imminent - I wanted history to play it's role by interpreting a well-loved design aesthetic - minimalism.  Minimalism + Japanese Aesthetic = Calming to the Soul.  Please - not this time - no moldings...just a glazed edge.  Yes to a tight grout line and yes to these magnificent colors pulled from Japan's natural world.  Reclaimed French limestone and French oak floors had enough movement and interest - this masculine energy called Yang. This tile collection would be their Yin - the soft, diffuse textures with colors of the earth, moon and sky.

And then...there are the Belgian and French style interiors - known for their muted color palettes, organic materials of stone, wood and terra cotta tile paired with a POP of color. My heart was singing.  This pop of color, hand painted on tile that shows aged perfection/imperfection is the quintessential counterpoint that defines these two design aesthetics.  

The important thing to note - with so many colored tiles on the market today - is the edging. Many hand made tiles have rounded corners - which creates a large grout line - perfect for a Spanish Revival, Malibu or Arts & Crafts aesthetic.  But for the French and Belgian aesthetic - elegance + rustic is what the eye seeks.  The goal is to create walls of organic color that keep the eye moving like leaves lifting and falling in a gentle autumn wind.  This wall of color will sparkle - even in the dark hues - for the surface reflection is like a vintage mirror - just enough for the gleam to enter your vision.  
Blue Moon:

Turquoise Skies:


Sea Foam Green:

Blue Forest:

Emerald Pond:

Evening Water:

Black Stone:

The magic happens when your eye rests upon it's counterpart - whether that be a reclaimed stone floor, a reclaimed or aged wood floor or a reclaimed terra cotta floor...yin meeting yang. pair this tile with anything but noble materials would mean lifting up the magic curtain where the rush of beautiful would be replaced with mediocrity. Please don't do this.  The secret is in the knowing...just like les truffes, foie gras, La Jaconde...seeing something does not always come with the knowing of something.  Look deeper...always.
If you are building or renovating a project - and would love Shibui in your home using noble materials - please make an appointment with me in our Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc. showroom.  I will show you how to transport your interiors to a place where your eye only knows beauty.
Thank you for your time.  I hope you enjoyed this blog.
Emmi Micallef
Co-Founder and Designer
Historic Decorative Materials, a Division of Pavé Tile, Wood &
Stone, Inc.

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