clé: a treasure trove of tiles

When doing blue-chip interiors, one seldom gets the bathroom tile from Home Depot.  Nothing wrong with the source, but its just not the special tile offering fastidious homeowners want, so when I was alerted about the 1 month old online tile resource called clé, I had to take a look.

Founded by Deborah Osburn, a tile impresario and blogger based in Sausalito, California, the premise behind clé is like nothing I had heard before.  Rather than an online tile resource with a team of buyers imposing their taste, the team at clé comb tile internet sites finding tiles people have “liked” and then source the same or very similar tiles from the best manufacturers, artists or studios for offer on the their site.  But it doesn’t end here.  This process is continuous, so the offerings change … its up-to-the-minute tile resourcing. Imagine all of the sudden there is a tile resource at your fingertips with work from artists you may never have heard and places you’ve never been!
There is everything from hand painted, lithographed, Moroccan, classic penny, and subway tiles (in ceramic, glass and stone with wood grain and brick finishes) to one-off studio tiles.  But of all the tiles available now, here are my favorite picks:
From artist John Whitmarsh (images above), a San Francisco-based photographer and filmmaker turned sculptor exclusive to ceramics, are the “Container” and “End Grain” ceramic and gypsum tiles for the interior/exterior and wall/floor applications. His emphasis on the appearance of materials is actually quite amazing and VERY cool.
Tilevera, a Northern California based company, produces “Glimmer” (image above), an authentic mercury glass tile made from hand-silvered and hand – distressed mirror of unparalleled beauty and reflective patina.  It’s fierce!  These can only to be used on interior walls.
Art of Board Studio with its base in Philadelphia offer these sick recycled scraps of broken skateboard decks to create unique and unexpected interior wall and floor surfaces.  Their “SK8” tiles (image above) are rooted in the skateboard culture. As they say … totally awesome dude!
Finally, based in Los Angeles, Hunt Studios is headed by Nathan Hunt an architectural sculptor and master carver.  His “Ripple” tile (image above) in gypsum, stone or cold-cast bronze (resin with bronze) is perfect for interior/exterior walls.  It’s modern and frankly, too elegant for words, a true statement of this transplanted Brit’s talent and refined artistry.
image credits: clé tile, Sausalito
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