Update Friday night: So I finally thought to call the source — Chippy at World of Tile — herself. She did not hesitate in saying that in 1968, when she started at World of Tile, her dad called this Provincial tile. In fact, if you look at some of the photos below, you can see the abbreviation “PRV” on some of the cardboard sleeves. That’s for Provincial. I can only guess: Yes, French Provincial. Could hav been that this tile shape was associated with that style, back in the day. However, I still think that somewhere, I’ve seen a 1960s ad calling in Persian.
Original story still open for discussion, though: This tile: Should we call it Moroccan tile? I don’t think so. Should we call it Persian tile? I don’t think so. The correct descriptor for this style of tile, I have decided… or learned… I think… is: Arabesque tile. I didn’t learn this in any official way. I prowled around the google. This tile is getting popular again in 2011-12 in contemporary kitchens backspashes and bathrooms — and I see most places calling it Arabesque. Today’s rehash seems to be in small scale, all glossy white — glam. But back in the 1970s, we saw it in all kinds of rich, deep, earthy, textured colors — Mediterranean hippie style. An iconic example of the 1970s’ fixation on tile.
However, I am 100% not sure whether Arabesque is the true proper classification for this shape of tile — and I sure would like to know. I spent a year in Spain in college, and while there, visited the Alhambra in Granada. Oh my goodness, what a treasure. The tile there is considered Moorish. Which is not the same as Moroccan. And I think I originally started calling this shape Persian because of something I saw in a 1960s or 1970s advertisement. ACK! I am drowning! Any tile scholars out there? I’d love the know what to call this shape of tile, and how to differentiate it from Moroccan and Moorish and Persian and Retro Decorating Gods Know What other tile styles that I should understand. HELP!
While I was at World of Tile last year, I saw plenty of Arabesque tile — available in big lots. And also available in much more limited availability as replacement tile. Anything on a piece of cardboard is a replacement tile. Sorry for the shaky images — it was way dark back there, and I didn’t hold the camera still enough. I will take a tripod next time… Note also – arabesque tile in resilient sheet flooring from Tarkett, too!
More tile shapes
To add to this list of questions, I am also throwing the following tiles in. They are close to the pointy-like tiles that I am trying to nail down as Arabesque. But they are not pointy. How do these fit into the taxonomy of tiles?
I LOVE LOVE LOVE these two, they are coordinating:
All of the tile samples here are from World of Tile in Springfield, New Jersey. I have written extensively about this time capsule tile store. All this tile is the real deal New Old Stock from the 1960s, 1970s and from all the years since. Want some? Call Chippy or Nick at World of Tile, tell ‘em I sent you.