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Modern VS Traditional: Tile Art & Mosaic Pattern Story

If your marble tile isn’t making the grade or your carpet is a catastrophe, it might be time to consider a radical yet radiating renovation: integrating tile art to your interior. Incorporating a mosaic into your interior is a guaranteed way to wow your visitors and add an air of utmost sophistication to your room.

But where does one begin?

Committing to a floor mosaic means being confident that you have selected a pattern or motif that will continue to inspire you for some time to come. To help begin this process, the following offers some striking mosaic patterns and themes gleaned from history. The practice of mosaic dates back to some of the world’s earliest cultures, and so a review of popular themes from the ancient world might be just enough of a source book to fuel your spark of mosaic inspiration.

Plants and Animals

Renditions of flora and fauna were one of the most recurring themes throughout floor mosaics in the ancient world. From fish swimming in reflecting ponds to fruits, vegetables, and flowers scattered across a fictive plane, ancient floor mosaic patterns capitalized on tiny tesserae to yield incredibly intricate designs. Such can be seen in the Art Institute of Chicago’s mosaic panel of swimming fish, found near Antioch in Turkey and dating to the 3rd century A.D. Most likely once decoration within a person’s home, such imagery was a means to allude to both the abundance of the household and the pleasures of its owner. While the notion of reflecting one’s abundance might not strike a chord with today’s interior designers, the concept of developing a mosaic pattern that reflects the owner’s passions would be very en vogue.

 Mosaic pattern floor tile

Geometric Motifs

If a direct figural reference is too much of a commitment, perhaps a more simplified mosaic pattern that relies on geometric motifs would be a better fit. Here too one can find precedents in antiquity. From the Greek meander pattern that framed many floor mosaics in ancient Rome to the rich network of arabesquesthat weave together in early Islamic tile work, these regularized patterns convey a timeless taste that would fit seamlessly into today’s interiors.

 islamic mosaic pattern floor

Trompe L’oeil Patterns

Taking the geometric look to the next level, you can also fool your visitor’s eye with a trompe l’oeil motif. Literally translating from the French as “fool the eye,” these mosaic patterns play with depth and dimension. A fantastic contemporary example modeled from ancient predecessors is that conjured by England’s Gary Drostle, who created an impeccable illusionistic mosaic of a fish pond near Surrey.

mosaic fish pond

Regardless of what theme inspires you, using these antique models as a basis for your floor mosaic pattern can transform your interior into an instant conversation piece.

Beyond the mention of the artistry and skill of your mosaicist, you can also tie your new installation to the great homes of antiquity, a laudable lineage indeed.

Need some more examples from the ancient world? Check out these sites:

The Lod Mosaic (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Roman Mosaics from Tunisia

Alexander Mosaic from the House of the Faun

Have a mosaic pattern you’d like to share? Do you have a favorite we missed here?

Tell us below. 

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