How to design your own modern mosaic

Mosaics have long been an inspiration to designers across the world. Capturing the style and luxury of the Roman Empire, they use dozens of small individual tiles known as tessera to create intricate and elaborate designs.

Although tessera may be a new word to some of us, many will already be familiar with traditional mosaic floor patterns and of course the most popular modern examples displayed in family bathrooms and kitchens across the Globe. This technique has been used across the architectural spectrum from wall murals to fountains, fireplaces to ceilings and is now hugely popular in interior design, particularly on mirrors and photo frames.

At this year's Eurovision mosaic was given an extravagant twist when a mirrored moon featured in Austria’s entry performance and the extraordinary design work of Sarah Eberle in The Viking Cruises Garden of Inspiration at this year's Chelsea Flower Show won a gold medal.

But it's not just in architecture that this technique shines. This week's blog shows you how you can achieve spectacular printed results using the art-form to bring a new level of texture and depth to household items.

Nathan Trent singing "Running on air" SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images
Designer Sarah Eberle, Built by Belderbos Landscapes, Sponsor: Viking Cruises

As you can see from Diz's designs below, taking either a floral design or a more specific animal image as the base for your mosaic creates beautiful, strong results. Diz has chosen a soft colour pallet here for a more authentic finish but the great thing about mosaic is that you really can experiment with colour as much as you'd like. 

American mosaic artist Sonia King creates large mosaic pieces to inspire and provoke the senses and is a master when it comes to getting the very best out of bright colour. Her design for the Children's Medical Centre in Dallas incorporates images from nature and these kinds of design are particularly effective when translated onto fabric.

All designs by Head Designer Diz Andrews.
All designs by Head Designer Diz Andrews.

Some of the world's most prolific designers have used mosaic in their work, including Yves St Laurent who as well as using the style as inspiration for some of his catwalk pieces, particularly his 1976 Russian Collection, displayed this technique throughout his home in Marrakech, Jardin Marjorelle. Bill Willis's designs for the house are a fantastic example of what can be achieved with mosaic when you really embrace a bold colour pallet.

These examples of exclusive Stuart Morris designs are for The Roman Baths in Bath and The Roman Villa in Chedworth respectively. Whilst both of these examples are taken from our range of tea-towels the versatility of mosaic lends itself not only to fabric printing but also translates onto many of our products including scarves and paperweights, a great option for those looking to combine that sense of Romanesque luxury with a practical gift.

The Roman Baths, Bath. Click the images to learn more.
Chedworth Roman Villa, National Trust Collection

If you are interested in experimenting with this technique but want something a little different, the traditional mosaic style can be adapted for softer, more subtle designs. Here for example you can see how the principles of mosaic have been used to create a lace-like effect. By highlighting the grouting rather than the tessera in this instance, you are left with a clean, monocrome finish.

Whereas in the right hand image, Diz has shown you how, using a style with less definition can be really effective for background work on larger designs. This is ideal if you want to give the impression of using tessera but without being quite so prescriptive, particularly if you are new to the technique.

Focusing on the grouting creates a new twist on this traditional technique.
Focusing on the grouting creates a new twist on this traditional technique.
New to mosaic? Don't be afraid to start with this more subtle style.
New to mosaic? Don't be afraid to start with this more subtle style.

We hope we've inspired you to give mosaic design a go. If you'd like to learn more about the history of the art form take a look at this great article on the Mosaico website and the British Association for Modern Mosaic is a terrific site not only for heaps of inspiration but also a great place to go for a list of current artists and upcoming events.

If you have an idea but you're not sure where to begin or have a design but need some help deciding how to best translate it for merchandising, give our Team a call on 01473 820015 (Designs) or 01473 820016 (Merchandising) and speak to Terri and Steve.   

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