Azulej, Patricia Urquiola ’s glazed porcelain tiles for Mutina , might make your head spin. Holding court at the company’s stand during Cersaie 2012 in Bologna, the Interior Design Hall of Fame member, who also serves as the company’s creative director, pontificated on creating the collection. “We’ve worked on sizes, blends, opacities, and textures, and processing on the borders,” she said.“We have defined colors, noncolors, and interconnected effects.”
Her words translate to Nero, Grigio and Bianco, her three-piece line, their names referring to the tiles’ base colors. Each is digitally printed with 27 patterns meant to be combined randomly as intricate patchwork. From these, nine compositions were selected to work singularly, in combinations with each other, or with unpatterned tile.
Despite high-technology production, Azulej recalls hand crafted majolica tiles because its colors are a bit irregular and may seep around the edges. But filtered through Urquiola’s sensibility, the overall look is contemporary. Approximately 8 inches square, the tiles are resistant to temperature changes and chemicals, making them suitable for exterior and interior applications. Technically a made-up word, Azulej recalls the tile form azulejo, ubiquitous in its native Portugal.