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What’s in a ceramic tile? From the striking facade of a Barcelona hotel to the vivid interplay of surfaces at Manhattan’s Mercado Little Spain, Spanish ceramics are a marquee feature of inspiring architecture and interiors globally.

Drawing on centuries of tradition, the country’s contemporary ceramics combine a durable and sustainable material with innovations that expand its aesthetic and functional possibilities across a range of applications. Under the Tile of Spain banner, the nation’s ceramics manufacturers are the stewards of a continually evolving craft.

It all begins, as it always has, with the earth. A humble mixture of natural, renewably sourced ingredients — including clay, water and feldspar — is baked at high temperatures to create a long-lasting and non-flammable product. The environmentally sensitive process also salvages unused material to minimize waste. What’s more, modern Spanish ceramics for both indoor and outdoor applications are completely recyclable in accordance with the highest global standards.

Across the country, ceramics companies are introducing technological sophistication to their manufacturing methods. Innovations in digital fabrication, including 3D printing, make possible a broader variety of designs, while the ability to produce larger and larger formats continues to push both aesthetics and applications. Such possibilities come alive at Mercado Little Spain in New York City’s Hudson Yards.

Evoking a traditional Spanish market, the space unfolds in an array of restaurants and food stands. Throughout, VIVES Ceramica tiles conjure the rich history of Spanish design in a tapestry of colours and patterns. And the interplay of other details — from wood-look ceramic flooring to intricately patterned reliefs and eye-catching wall accents — lend Little Spain a distinctly Iberian flavour.

When it comes to cladding, the results are equally impressive. At Barcelona’s new EDITION hotel by Office of Architecture in Barcelona (OAB), a facade of lightweight large-format Neolith tiles illustrates the high-performance flair of contemporary ceramics.

The ventilated facade is an energy-efficient, noise-cancelling shell that contributed to the building’s LEED Gold Certification. In a graceful adaptive re-use project, meanwhile, OAB employed ceramic tile to give a staid office block a sleek new face.

Odourless and easy to clean, ceramic is also renowned for its hygienic properties, making it an ideal choice for high-traffic public spaces. Just west of Madrid, a new multi-sport facility at the Universidad Francisco de Vitoria is a case in point.

Tiles are a defining element inside the sports complex at Madrid’s Universidad Francisco de Vitoria.

Here, ceramic tiles not only line the swimming pool but also clad the floor and the gymnasium bleacher seating, completing an aesthetically unified — and highly sanitary — facility. Designed by Alberto Campo Baeza, the elegant complex is a showcase for ceramic versatility — and an inviting place to take the plunge.

This content was published by Azure on behalf of Tile of Spain.

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Tile of Spain’s recyclable, non-toxic ceramics are a defining feature of innovative projects the world over.

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