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Tiled Tales

Seville, Spain

In the lively and sun-soaked streets of Seville, the canopies of tropical trees reveal layers of glistening buildings. Each facade is bedazzled with colorfully intricate tiles, expressing motifs of florals, animals, and other patterns that work together to create a narrative of culture. While these tiles sit proudly on the streets of Spain, some tiles have lost their home and sit tucked away in vintage stores in the same neighborhoods.

These tile orphanages are often the opposite of the bustling streets: cool, quiet, and intimate. Fragments of buildings are strewn haphazardly and are all covered in a fine layer of dust. The ceramic pieces, whether stolen, reclaimed, or from destroyed buildings, are part of spaces that we will never know or experience. These troves of spolia, a practice where old pieces of buildings are repurposed for a new life, act as cemeteries of architecture. Each nomadic tile is a fragment of memory which holds a curious mystery to their past. Unlike the tiles that sit snugly within each other in buildings on the street face, these lost tiles reduce the oversized mosaic to a more tangible and emotional piece in your hand.

The remarkable stores that hold these buildings express that a portion of the design is as important as the whole. Whether lost or situated in its original home, these details share a part of architecture that communicates a more intimate scale to the human. It makes us think, if someone took a fragment of one of our built projects, how much would they be able to understand?