The Bookshelf: “Tile Envy” By Deborah Osburn


There are two kinds of people in the world: those with a deep passion for tile and those without. In her new title, Tile Envy, tile maker and founder of clé, Deborah Osburn explores the former.

From start to finish, this book examines the art that is tile. Sure, they may seem like small squares that work wonders for the space they’re in, but Osburn show us that tile is more than that. Along with intricate tile-making processes, which includes everything from digital printing to casting, handforming tiles, painting, etching, silk screening, and even photo synthesis, Tile Envy profiles 48 contemporary designers/artisans and shares their love of tile and their stories about it.

Aesop store in Berlin.

Clé’s Marrakech Terrace tile.

It’s clear with each page that tile has no bounds. What began as a simple blog filled with inspiration and enthusiasm, has transformed into a whole world of magnificence. Osburn says candidly in the book’s introduction, “Ceramicists, product designers, illustrators, and architects are all pushing the boundaries of the way that tiles are made and laid; getting as hooked on the infinite possibilities of repetition, pattern, and colo[u]r as I am.”

Jason Green’s Penrose on Cairo tile.

As she touches on texture and patterns, you’ll learn more about the multitude of materials used in tiles: glass, stone, and steel are not off limits. And as she closes the rich exploration of this wildly entertaining surface material, Osburn talks about just how tile alone defines places and spaces, becoming an even greater force through sculptural art. 

Deborah Osburn

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