Whilst walking the hilly streets of Lisbon I was captured by the tiled buildings I was surrounded by, compelled to take numerous photos of the ceramic-shelled architecture! I’m not entirely sure why!
Having done a small amount of research I found that the art of the ceramic tile in Lisbon is known as ‘Azulejos’, an Arabic word meaning ‘polished stone’. These tiles are used to decorate everything, from walls of churches and monasteries to houses, subways and park benches. They came about in the Gothic period where there appeared to be a need to decorate large expanses of white plaster. In Italy they used frescos, in Portugal there were tiles! As well as serving a decorative purpose they also served a functional purpose in temperature control. To begin with the tiles were imported from Seville and in accordance with Islamic law were not allowed to incorporate human forms and so consisted of geometric patterns- this could be the reason why I was so taken by them- my geeky mathematic mind has always been drawn to geometric images! Later on the Portugese started to produce their own and began incorporating human figures and animals.
The dominant colours in the tiles are green, blue, yellow and white. Although these tiles can be found in other European cities it is quite apparent that in Lisbon the Azulejos take on an expressive poetic form lacking in others.
Having been captured by these tiles I was very excited to find that B&Q stock tile effect wallpaper at just £10 a roll and Topps tiles sell ‘Lisbon effect’ tiles at £40-£70 per square meter.
I love the idea of being able to incorporate elements of my travel into my interior design and retro furniture collection from around Europe. With high street shops now stocking these ranges and restored furniture from around Europe readily available this can be done easily and cost effectively.
P.S. Lisbon is an amazing city to visit!
With the historic buildings and trams interspersed with grittier more bohemian areas reminiscent of East Berlin and the best custard tarts you will ever eat Lisbon is a city you could visit again and again and always find new corners and experiences. Having been to numerous European cities there have not been any others that I have felt a need to return to!