California Decorated Tile

California Decorated Tile

International Terminal

Departures Level 3, Gallery 4A
Oct 26, 2024 - Jun 15, 2025

California Decorated Tile

Tile evokes the warm and artistic nature of California along with the historic character of its past. Introduced to the state during Spanish occupation, tile remained a central architectural element in the early twentieth century when the Arts & Crafts and Spanish Colonial Revival styles reigned supreme. Craftsman bungalows showcased tile with picturesque scenes and natural motifs rendered in earthy tones. Decorated tile in bold patterns and brightly colored glazes acted in concert with the terra cotta roof and floor tiles of revival-style homes. Durable, hygienic, easy to clean, and ornamental yet cost-effective, tile also holds insulating properties that provide an element of coolness in warm weather. To this day, many California kitchens and bathrooms feature extensive tilework, while tile adorns fireplace surrounds, staircase risers, fountains, and patios. This exhibition will feature decorated tile by California makers from the collection of the Tile Heritage Foundation.

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Robert Howden & Sons tile showroom  c. 1925
Oakland, CA
Courtesy of the Tile Heritage Foundation