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The Designs from Portugal


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THIS IS a special little book featured this week, which will be of interest to many people living in, or visiting, Portugal.

Tile Designs from Portugal by Diego Hurtado de Mendoza in small hardback with a CD-ROM included for 18.50 euros.

The patterned tiles, which adorn many of the façades of Lisbon’s buildings particularly on the streets of the city’s historic districts, inspired the internationally reputed graphic designer come author to produce this delightful book.

The introduction, individual tile identification and chapters on the history of tile design in Portugal are translated into English, Italian, Portuguese and French within.

In Portugal, tiles have been used on a massive scale from the 16th Century to the present day.

It is an artistic tradition deeply rooted in Portugal’s culture, which reveals both an effective practical approach and great artistic imagination. Between the latter part of the 15th Century and mid 16th Century, tiles were imported from Valencia and Seville, whose manufacturing methods and style were inherited from Moorish technical and artistic knowledge.

Their patterns adorned large walls in many important buildings, including the Old Cathedral of Coimbra.


From the mid 16th century, a considerable number of ceramic workshops were set up in Lisbon, producing designs influenced by the Flanders style mixed with Portuguese creativity.

They outlined windows, doors and the edges of walls as a clever way of rendering an impermeable surface against damp weather and providing a feast for the eye.

When the 1755 earthquake hit Lisbon, ceramic production went into overdrive as the Count of Oeiras (Prime Minister to the then King José) ordered the demolition of ruined buildings and the creation of a new city centre.

Creativity in tile design flourished and there was a surge in the requirement for registos, featuring portrayals of patron saints and applied to the façades of buildings to protect them against fire and earthquakes.

Most frequently depicted were Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, St Anthony and St Marçal.

This book contains more than 100 designs originating from the 17th and 18th centuries in beautiful colour photography, with reproductions in the integral CD-ROM.

If you are building or renovating a house here and require inspiration for tile ideas, look no further and, if your interest is in the design and history of the Portuguese tile industry, you’ll find it all in this volume.

The publisher is Pepin Press of Amsterdam, which specialises in art and design books.

It has also produced a volume of tile design from Barcelona, Havana and Traditional Dutch Tile Design.