Zellige - unique and beautifully imperfect Moroccan tiles
Updated: Mar 16, 2020
Currently we’re working with a client who has specifically requested Zellige tiles in their interior design scheme and so it seemed a great time to give some blog space to what the interiors oracle, Remodelista calls “the trendiest tile of 2019”.
Zellige tiles - aka zilij - have been around since the 10C and originate in Morocco - the Fez region to be exact.
Like most unique and cherished artisan techniques, the art of zellige is sadly dying out. It has been passed down through the generations, but these specific craftsmen, or maâlems are becoming fewer and fewer in numbers.
Not for those who err on the side of obsessive compulsive, these beautiful and distinct tiles are not uniform in appearance, but that is their appeal.
Each is unique and each is imperfect. Handcrafted, cut and glazed, they are utterly unique - no two tiles are the same - and have been popping up in some of the most lauded residential and hospitality design schemes.
Their uniqueness means that you can't expect to have a uniform, smooth surface. It’s very irregular, so best used on walls - either bathroom, shower or splash backs - but not so good for floors as they can be a bit hard on bare feet.
Zellige tiles are currently mainly used in their glazed form, but if you are looking for a more natural look they also come unglazed. They are generally found in 10cm x 10cm square tiles and you can buy them in preformed mosaic panels for showers, as well as individually.
In terms of application, Zellige tiles are best done by professionals. They have to be laid very close together - preferably with the absolute minimum space in between them - no joints and no spacers to be used - so grout is barely visible.
This is not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s part of their appeal in my eyes, being a fan of grout-less (if that’s such a term!) tiles and walls, which remind me of my nan’s house in Hereford where rich red brick with invisible (self colouring) grouting is a local style.
If you're looking for something a little different for your kitchen or bathroom renovations, it's definitely worth considering Zellige.
Read more about the pros and cons of Zellige tiles in this useful article in Remodelista - https://www.remodelista.com/posts/moroccan-zellige-terracotta-tiles-pros-cons/
Local tile shops:
Limpsfield Ceramics - Limpsfield high street
Topps Tiles - Sevenoaks
Freelands Tiles - Dunton Green
London Encaustic -
Otto Tiles - Wandsworth