I enter the wonderful world of tiles and speak to expert Chris Brooke on how he set up Maitland & Poate. I also get his low down on key tile looks and where to put them in your home. So read on and be inspired!
How did you become involved in the world of tiles?
We became involved when we befriended a man in the countryside between Sevilla and Jerez de La Frontera. He actually enlightened us on the tiles we specialise in, reclaimed antique encaustic tiles. In reality, we didn’t know much about tiles prior to this. All we knew were the tiles that we see in our high street stores. This man was renovating a hotel in Sevilla and we bought our first batch of antique tiles from him. We then became obsessed once we saw these beautiful handmade tiles and couldn’t stop investing in them…
Where does your interest in tiles come from?
My wife, Emma, and I became obsessed with tiles when renovating our home in Balham. It was a tired, old Victorian home which needed gutting from head to toe! We suddenly realised how much we loved these handmade Spanish cement tiles and old terracotta. In fact, they were so much more beautiful and full of life than the computer-produced tiles today. We absolutely loved their inherent beauty with natural pigments and the hand-poured designs.
Is it a family business?
Fully! Emma and I travel and explore places we love in Spain. In fact, we now venture to other corners of the world too. When we’re on our travels, we go to old buildings and yards in the middle of nowhere. We even drag our three children along with us. Summer, Amelie and Xavier love the adventure! I even remember the first exploration involved 45 degrees heat, broken air con and a farm of donkeys on the hills of Sevilla!
How would you describe your overall tile collections?
Firstly, our Maitland & Poate collections are antique, handmade and high quality. Secondly they are unique. Companies do try to copy them but they don’t come close. Our main focus is our reclaimed handmade tiles which we restore by hand, one by one. These tiles feature natural pigments and variations, so each one is unique. This way, they can add so much depth and texture to any interior – plus history due to their age.
Where do you find inspiration from for new designs?
Generally from the places I love – old buildings, especially in Mediterranean settings. I love hand-made things using natural materials. I also find inspiration from reclaiming other objects/furniture and architectural salvage. In fact, I am often inspired by something we’ve found, which enables me to create a design.
Which tiles are your bestseller?
It’s very difficult to give you a bestseller when every batch is finite and rare. In addition, our stock is always changing. I would say our Keidos tile is popular and can be laid out in a unique way with every interior.
Where do your travels take you and what do you find?
We mainly travel across Andalusia which, for me, is one of the most mythical and beautiful spots on earth. We literally visit everywhere, from Granada to Sevilla, Cordoba to Cadiz and everywhere in between. Of course, we find our antique encaustic tiles here. But we also discover old terracottas (over 250 years old), marble, stone etc – rare materials that others don’t have. We’ve also started sourcing some beautiful materials from Belgium – my new favourite is black terracotta.
Which tiles are best – old or new?
I feel old are. After all, they offer more variation and more character. Experts consider the old natural pigments that were used as more vibrant and unique. The stencils that they use to make the patterns are also hand-shaped and irregular. They’re also more forgiving than the new encaustic tiles, which are also very beautiful. These new tiles need to be taken care of and are more prone to staining etc. However, an old tile can only get better with time.
How do tiles fit in with the winter 2018/2019 key interiors trends?
I’m always researching trends and I’m very interested in materials. But, at the same time, I don’t like to get too consumed with this, especially when it comes to tiles. We find that people don’t seem to follow the trends too much with old tiles. It’s almost as if they make an exception and get adventurous because of their old unique colours and combinations. That said, the trends are leaning more towards tactile materials with texture and feel. In fact, our antique tiles have more of this than any new tile with their cement, marble dust and sand composites and rough finish.
Do you have any of your tiles in your own home?
Everywhere! Our tiles are on our kitchen floor, which is combined with old oak flooring, and the splash back. We even have 250-year-old herringbone terracotta in our ensuite and encaustic tiles in the shower. There are more tiles to behold in the children’s bathroom, fireplace hearths and so on!
What are the latest tiles trends for the bathroom?
There are so many but we love mixed batches of plain ones to add variation and interest along with feature walls. There’s also a lot of interest in our terracotta for flooring too, especially laid out in a herringbone or chevron formation. There are very few people who sell genuine old terracotta. However, the difference is massive.
Which design is your favourite from the range?
My favourite tile is our Turquesa…at the moment. Just the colours and classic design are beautiful enough. In addition, they are handmade and we discovered them in an old Duke’s house, which adds to the charm. That’s a very difficult question to answer! I’m not exaggerating when I say I fall in love with every tile we source. It’s all due to their handmade qualities and beautiful design.
You now sell ceramics and homeware – how did this come about?
This is a small add-on just because I love the ceramics and the artist who makes them in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Granada. Each piece is made to the highest quality and unique as they are hand made. It sits well with the rest of our reclaimed materials since both have a lot of love and care put into making them. They all come from a similar world, which means they work well together. It’s the quality and the romantic world from which they come that does it for me!