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Inspired By Our Love Of Tiles


NYC Skyline

 

The topic of each of our blog entries will be influenced by one or more of the tiles from our range. Tiles are about design, and design is inherent in everything we create. So we thought it could be fun to select a tile quite randomly and see where its story brings us.

 

We kick off with our Heritage Tile Range, and an image illustrating the colour and boldness of the range:

 

Heritage Mix Tiles - Art Deco Style

 

So what is it, other than being busy? Who, outside of a school art room, would conceive of such patterns? And why produce them commercially in the form of porcelain tiles? Many questions. And the answer to the last one is because they're mighty popular. Let’s have a look at what's behind this design.

 

This design can loosely be termed Art Deco, an expression everyone is familiar with. Art Deco is synonymous with the decadence of the inter war years of the early 20th century. In the western world, this style influenced practically all aspects of visual arts, buildings, interiors, fashion, jewellery, furniture, paintings – you get the picture, let’s not make this a history lesson.

In this post we’ll have a look at buildings - in fact, just the exteriors. The most obvious place to begin: the magnificent Chrysler Building, New York, the granddaddy of them all.

 

Chrysler Building - NYC

 

Possibly the best loved of all of Manhattan's skyscrapers. Completed in 1930, at a rate of 4 floors per week, this construction simply exudes Art Deco. Allegedly the Chrysler Motor company did not pay for this. Mr Chrysler himself paid for it, out of his own back pocket. Impressive.

And what exactly are we looking for? Well, some defining features include:

 

  • The juxtaposition of geometrical shapes, a mish-mash of strong cubic shapes, grand sweeping curves, zigzags, chevrons, triangles, circles, pyramids, and others. Mad stuff, really. See our photo above for proof.
  • Natural motifs, such as flowers, sunbursts, and lightning bolts.
  • Contrast of (expensive) textures. Imagine an interior with a sleek, black polished floor, offset with white furs and satins. That type of thing. Project that idea onto a building and you might end up with a combination of brick and metal (see below) to create such effects.
  • Bold colours, especially in the US, and especially the pastel ones splashed across the facades of the famous Miami Beach properties, made famous by Crockett and Tubbs. And infamous by Tony Montana.
  • Stepped profiles in building design, both interior and exterior, and often in threes. Groups of three was an important aspect in Art Deco. Me neither.
  • And pillars. They loved pillars. Everything had to look as if it was supported by pillars. Some of it was, to be fair.

 

Chrysler Building Spire

 

Take a look at the unmistakeable crown of the Chrysler Building, with its stepped arches incorporating triangular windows. The ribbed stainless steel cladding has been arranged in a dramatic sunburst pattern. And of course, more than a hint of a wheel hub towards the centre.

Decorating the building are gargoyles and eagles, not dissimilar to the ornaments adorning the car company's various production models of the time.


  Chrysler Building Eagle

 

The first building to top 1,000 feet, its number one status was soon usurped by the Empire State Building. Today, a handful stand at twice that height.

 


Chrysler Building - Black and WhiteNote the monolithic shape, the three main tiers, and the three columns of windows running up almost the entire front.

These details are prevalent among Art Deco buildings, as we shall see in a later post.

And of course the symmetry is obvious.

While structurally of steel, it claims to be still the tallest brick façade building in the world.

So, thus concludes an extremely brief glimpse at some of the defining characteristics of an Art Deco building. For a slightly longer, but still manageable look at the Chrysler Building, have a look at this excellent post in The Welcome Blog.

 

We leave New York, The Great Gatsby and his parties from the roaring twenties, and head back to the UK.

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