Zellige tiling is a time-tested art form that features fresh textures, rich colorways, and handcrafted charm. The glossy, handmade tiles come in a broad selection of shapes and sizes—though they are most commonly square—and due to the imperfect nature of the glaze no two pieces are exactly alike. With artisanal origins that date back to 10th century Morocco, zellige tiles have been used throughout history to add an intriguingly lustrous look to any interior. The information that follows explores a brief overview of the enduring appeal of zellige tiles.
With only slight adjustments made to its intricate and laborious production processes over the centuries, the art of zellige can be traced back 1,300 years and has been passed down from generation to generation in Morocco. As a ceramic tile that has been fired and glazed for durability and resilience, zellige tile is an early iteration of the ever-infamous subway tile, which made its debut in New York during the early 20th century.
The making of traditional zellige tiles involves mixing natural clay with water before hand-shaping, drying, kiln-firing, and then applying enamel glazing to the fronts of the tiles by hand. Since they are hand-molded, hand-cut, and hand-glazed, no two zellige tiles are the same, and their intriguing imperfections are exactly what set these appealing tiles apart from the rest.
With a recent resurgence in contemporary interiors, zellige tiles can be used to great effect in many different spaces given their sizeable color palette that ranges from vibrant and prominent to subdued and soothing to fit a multifaceted array of applications.