A Handcrafted History

Decorative cement was first introduced during the late 19th century in Spain and France, but its ubiquity in interior design lives on to this day. Our decorative cement collections are handmade using the same artisanal tile making techniques that have been passed down for generations.

Part One

Inspiration & Design

Our collections are inspired by a diversity of cultural and stylistic influences from various time periods and places around the world. From the traditional patterns of 19th century Europe to those commonly seen in Native American textiles. From the ornate Japanese motifs found in Spanish Colonial tile work to the bright colors and shapes of Scandinavian and Swedish design. These collections pay homage to the timeless beauty of historical patterns and celebrate, in equal measure, the unexpected joy that abounds in the abstract and interpretive.

Commune, a collaborator on multiple E/S Tile collections, on their design process:

We aren’t typically tile designers, or standard repeat pattern makers, and therefore look at a lot of unconventional sources for inspiration. We constantly research and are fascinated by finding connections to different civilizations, times and places, not just creating something from our minds. For example, we look at traditional textiles, like carpets, from a variety of cultures. Then we might take a single design element and blow it up, playing with the pattern in a way that hasn’t been seen before. We unintentionally break the rules because we have a different process of building repeats. But there is a subconscious connection. The mind recognizes the pattern as something familiar because there is a loose historical reference, even though it’s completely new.

“We generally love a mishmash of different styles and cultures. A layered approach that has resulted in collections with the perfect combination of traditional and contemporary aesthetics."

Roman Alonso & Steven Johanknecht
Principal Designers, Commune

Part Two

Tile Production

The marvelous patterns and colors of cement tiles—also known as encaustic tiles—are not a product of a glaze but of colored clay. Centuries after they were originally manufactured, the production process today remains essentially the same. Molds are made based on the individual tile's design. Unique colors are mixed with precision using cement, stone powder and pigment, and hand-poured into the molds. After the color layer has been poured, a mixture of cement and sand is added to strengthen the bond between layers before the tile is hydraulically pressed. The pressed tiles are then racked and, lastly, cured underwater for 24 hours before finishing. This labor intensive, multistep process produces unique tiles with unparalleled durability, character and beauty, while honoring a long, rich history of traditional craftsmanship.

"they have a quality similar to any organic material. They develop a patina with time and become a soulful part of any home."

Franck Nataf
Co-Founder Exquisite Surfaces

Part Three

A Beautiful Tradition

The art of decorative cement tile making has been transmitted through the generations by masters of the craft, learned from a young age and perfected over the course of a lifetime. With a similar passion for perfection, Exquisite Surfaces identifies and collaborates with the most skilled local artisans who continue to work in this venerable tradition. We strive to celebrate this history of expert craftsmanship and artistic excellence while creating a distinctly modern aesthetic, bridging the gap between the past and the future, inspiration and innovation.

the story continues

Every one of our products takes an extraordinary journey. Crafted with respect and care, they have passed through the hands of countless artisans on their way to destinations around the world. Their legacy can live on in your next project.