Step Away From the Subway Tile—An Endlessly Reconfigurable Collab Is Here
Four patterns, countless possibilities.
Updated Oct 6, 2021 6:14 PM
In a way, designing tile isn’t all that different from creating a pillow. Hopie and Lily Stockman, the founders of textile studio Block Shop, discovered this while working with fellow California-based company Fireclay Tile on the brands’ first-ever collaboration—out today. Block Shop’s signature hand-block-printed fabrics require repeated application of small wood blocks, each no larger than 8-by-11 inches. “Similarly, tile design is a lot like fitting puzzle pieces together to create a larger composition,” notes Hopie. Sure, the actual fabrication processes are a whole lot different (Fireclay’s tiles are composed of recycled clay that’s dried and fired in a gas kiln before the glazes are applied, then fired again). But not unlike their own paper prints, Hopie considers the tile patterns they’ve created as “art to hang on the wall.”
The line spans four patterns—Dot Dash, Roundabout, Squiggle, and Signal—that offer (what seems like) infinite possibilities. The hand-painted pieces, which can take between two to 10 hours to color, can be installed as a simple repeat design or configured to create a mosaic-style composition. “We wanted to create a system of tiles that would allow a designer to create something unique for any type of space, from small and minimal to a bold mural wall,” says Jamie Chappell, Fireclay’s head of brand and marketing. Another thing to feel good about? Fireclay is donating 5 percent of all sales to Allies in Arts, a nonprofit organization focused on supporting women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ artists.
Here’s a closer look at each of the four fresh patterns—and a few ways to put them to use at home.
For a classic look, try this undulating pattern in a straight diagonal in the Charcoal hue (pictured below). “It’s got a bit of a Southwestern flair,” says Hopie, who imagines Georgia O’Keeffe tiling a space in these squares.
When Block Shop and Fireclay were designing this one (it kind of looks like Morse code, depending on how you lay it out), they envisioned it installed in a swimming pool in the bold blue Lapis option to channel David Hockney vibes. “I definitely think Dot Dash will prove to show us the widest variety of configurations,” notes Chappel. Hopie recommends arranging it in the most maximalist way to really get the full energy and dynamism out of the blocks and circles. “It makes me want to dance, or sing, or cook a big feast for friends,” she says.
Hopie is bookmarking this swirly design for her own kitchen renovation (opting for the cool green colorway, which she says feels “distinctly Fireclay”). The squares can create a pattern that looks like a path or be combined in a linear fashion (or even one that makes a diagonal diamond shape). “The series takes its curvilinear cues from abstract artist Mavis Pusey, whose groundbreaking, hard-edge abstractions of city life inspired our patterns of rounded shapes and concentric stripes,” she says.
“These tiles would be gorgeous installed in alternating directions,” suggests Hopie. The arrowlike composition provides order to a room (you can also arrange them so they face the same direction—a genius way to spotlight a big focal point like a fireplace). “Up close, the seesawing triangles give the pattern a nice herringbone spirit, while the dots add a bit of unexpected playfulness,” she says. Which adventure will you choose to go on?