In the early eighth century, the Moors invaded Spain and eventually conquered the whole of Spain and part of Portugal. With them, the Moors brought handmade decorated cement tile, manufactured in the same manner they still are today. In the mid-fifteenth century, the Moors were driven from Spain and with that went the popularity of the decorative tile.
Encaustic cement tile experienced a renewed interest in the mid-nineteenth century when archeologist began to discover these colourful pieces while investigating ancient cultures. Geometry and patterns from these finds influenced designers in the Mediterranean and the product was brought back to life.
At the end of the nineteenth century, Art Nouveau was at its peak in the east part of Spain and the use of cement tiles became predominant in this style of architecture. The popularity of Art Nouveau carried the use of encaustic tile to the rest of Europe during this period. Early in the twentieth century, these tiles had become the most popular flooring material in the Mediterranean region of Europe. From here, the use of these tiles is spread to European colonies and start to appear around the world.
With mass production, and the demand for economical building products, came an end to the widespread installation of cement tile floors. This remained the case for the remainder of the twentieth century until recently, when the demand for authentic and sustainable building products has increased dramatically. Encaustic cement tiles are making a comeback due to their beauty and (lack of) environmental impact. Designers and consumers have a renewed appetite for handmade, durable and honesty.
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