Popham Design pink and black floor tilesSince seeing the superb tiled floors at Ca’n Prunera in Mallorca this spring, I have been obsessed with the seemingly infinite combination of patterns and colours that can be achieved using these simple, square, cement floor tiles, sometimes referred to as ‘hydraulic’ tiles.

But it seems there’s been somewhat of a renaissance quietly occurring in the tile world over the last few years.  The traditional patterns that we tend to associate with floor and wall tiles from Spain, Portugal and North Africa, are now being joined by a fresh, new wave of designs that are bang up to date and offer gorgeous, subtle colour, clean graphic motifs and the softest of silken, chalky finishes.  This subdued surface, as if already worn by age and many passing feet, presents an intriguing contrast of old and new when combined with these contemporary designs.

At the forefront of these new concrete floor tile designers and makers are Caitlin and Samuel Dowe-Sandes who founded Popham Design 5 years ago after moving to Morocco from the United States.  I saw some of their tiles on a recent visit to the Ann Sacks showroom at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour and they really are as stunning as in the pictures below:

Popham Design yellow Paccha floor tiles

Popham Design Black and White Zigzag tiles

Popham Design pink and black floor tiles

The couple’s home in Marrakech was featured in what for me is one of the most amazing Design*Sponge “Sneak Peeks” ever – it makes me want to grab my passport and jump on the first plane to Marrakech. Read their story and see what you think; here’s a little taster …

Popham Deisgn wall tiles in Marrakech house

Popham Deisgn floor tiles in front of fireplace

red wall tiles in bathroom

black and white floor tiles with swing chair

As always happens when one discovers something “new”,  suddenly it’s popping up all over, and a kitchen floor that recently grabbed my attention in a magazine turned out to be of cement floor tiles made by Emery & Cie, a Belgian company, with showrooms in Brussels, Antwerp, Paris and London.  Do visit their website – their pictures are quite wonderfully atmospheric, the patterns exquisite, and the colours intense, rich and lush – an utter delight.   The London showroom is based at Retrouvius.

turquoise and red floor tiles by Emery & Cie


blue floral floor tiles by Emery & Cie

These fresh designs pictured below by Lindsey Lang caught my eye at Design Junction during London Design Week.  Simple geometrics in a gorgeous pastel palate make for an interesting dilemma – one colour or two?

grey circle floor tiles by Lindsey Langblue and grey circle floor tiles by Lindsey Langblue and grey circle floor tiles by Lindsey Lang in room settingSweden is not, you might expect, the natural home for intricately patterned tiles but Stockholm-based company Marrakech Design, offers a wide choice of both traditional and contemporary patterns.  Recent design collaborations have produced styles such as Dandelion, Stone and Casa by the architect Claesson Koivisto Rune, and Raval and Kelim by designer Mats Theselius.  Inspired by classical Arabic geometry and patterns, each design is available in a range of colours.

Turquoise Stone design floor tiles by Marrakech Design

Green Dandelion design floor tiles by Marrakech Design



Blue and White Kelim design floor tiles

Coral and white Kelim design floor tiles




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