ISSUE 1  |  A New Start

Rorschach Revisited: Ceramic Tiles from a Subversive Scottish Design Studio

April 20, 2015 12:00 PM

BY Sarah Lonsdale

Sausalito, California, tile company Clé has added a notable new name to its collection of artist-designed tiles: the Glasgow design studio Timorous Beasties, best known for its witty wallpaper and textiles. Clé founder Deborah Osburn discovered the work of T.B. founders Paul Simmons and Alistair McAuley several years ago and was “captivated by these masters of the decorative motif and their irreverently elegant revisions of classic Victorian designs.”

Osborn invited the studio to collaborate, and the result is the Rorschach Tile Collection, which integrates classic damask motifs with Rorschach test imagery (think ink blots). Psychedelics for the 21st century? According to Simmons, “These tile patterns are a reversal of the expected: Blotches, splats, and drips are normally regarded as disordered accidents. By recontextualizing the damask and using it as a vehicle to carry Rorschach-esque symmetrical imagery, we’ve created beauty out of something conventionally repellent. In fact, by interrogating assumptions about pattern this way, we discover a new aesthetic.” What do you think? 

Above: The Timorous Beasties’ Rorschach Tile Collection is comprised of five designs–Vertical Stripe is shown here in marble. All patterns are hand lithographed on 12-inch-by-12-inch square limestone or Thassos marble tiles; the Thassos marble tiles are $75 per square foot and the limestone tiles are $60 per square foot. 

Above: Grand Blotch Damask in marble.

Above: Sphere Stripe. The patterns have been described as “subversive floral abstractions.”

Above: From a kindred Clé collection called Darwin, Timorous Beasties’ White Moth Circle tile.

Above: Omni Splatt in marble. To view the full line, visit Clé. Also see the Timorous Beasties’ Rorschach collection of wall papers and fabrics in similar patterns.

For more tile inspiration, take a look at: