Living History: The Vibrant Cement Tiles of Cuba


Cement tiles. Concrete tiles. Encaustic tiles. All three are used interchangeably to describe Granada Tile‘s reason for being. Here’s another one for you—Cuban tiles, anyone? Yep, even that’s synonymous with cement tiles and gives you a sense of the material’s popularity in the country starting in the last decades of the 19th century, not long after its first appearance in Europe. These days, cement tile styles, from Art Nouveau tile designs to Art Deco ones to stunning Modernist creations from the mid 20th century, still exist around Havana, a testament to the beauty and variety of the country’s cement tile. So get ready for some great tile pictures from Cuba! In an Art Nouveau vein, here’s a lovely floral tile design covering the floor in a room in Havana. An added touch, the pastel palette that immediately suggests the hues found on buildings around the city.

Here’s a wonderfully elaborate tile installation also from Havana—a tile carpet with, by our count, at least three different tile designs. The slightly off-center center tile installation is a neat touch, and we love how the geometric border frames both medallion tile designs.

Given how much cement tile Cuba produced, it’s not surprising how varied the tile designs end up being. A tile installation, also from Havana, features an unusual heraldic motif of eagles. They really stand out against the terracotta ground, and the framing device of black diamonds outlined in yellow really makes them pop.

We’ve got even more fantastic cement tile photos over on our Web site that show the breadth of cement tile design in Cuba. And, if you go to Florida, where vintage cement tiles are commonly referred to as Cuban tiles, you’ll find another testament to the lasting beauty and popularity of Cuban cement tiles..


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