Tile As Textile

image The Tale of  Two Tile Makers

Luigi Priante and Jorge Simes create individual works of art, each tile a hand crafted innovative expression of design. They explore the essential properties of leather and glass, and expand both with their own elegant interpretations. By manipulating their materials and applying an uncommon aesthetic, their tiles retain the functional properties of traditional material while offering elements of both unexpected illusion and rich beauty.image

Luigi Priante of Priante Pelleitaliana Srl.

Luigi Priante, the dynamic Italian entrepreneur who has taken his family tannery Priante Pelleitaliana Srl, that his father started in 1956 and embarked on a relentless pursuit of re-imagining how leather can evolve as “a living, authentic material, close to our human existence.” He created the Pachamama Collection of leather tile to explore master craftsmanship with provocative designs in the burnished neutrals of an earthen landscape. Pachamama, an Andean word meaning “Mother Earth” exemplifies the natural qualities of leather, the soft, sensual warmth and pliable strength.


The leather tiles have been stitched, embroidered, woven, pleated and embellished with horn, brass and mirrors. Our cultural universe is the inspiration for the textured shapes of leather. Multiple repetitions of stitched and tucked leather pods balance texture with geometry, the iconography for autumn. Several of the designs have capricious negative space, invoking the planets of the solar system. Priante is determined to broaden our perceptions of this natural material, by resisting the preconceived “confinement” of leather and developing a versatile artisan approach. (US distribution of the Pachama Leather Tiles’ Collection provided by Forma and Design.)

Jorge Simes of Simes Studios

For Jorge Simes who founded Simes Studios in Buenos Aires in 1985, the path to glass tiles was a natural evolution from artist, textile and rug designer to decorative painter. Moving to Chicago in 1988, Simes eventually combined his fascination with eglomise and trompe l’oeil to create a new art form, glass as textile. Originally a pre-Roman technique, eglomise was repopularized by Jean Michael Glomy in the 18th century. image

Glass tiles are painted and gilded on the back, with the applied layers displayed through the transparent front of the tile. Simes achieves his jeweled patina using several colors of leaf, bronze, gold, aluminum and copper creating deep metallic chocolate browns and Sienna reds. He is equally intrigued by the delicate tones of cream, pearl, silver and sand interspersed with a chromatic jade to achieve balance.


It was a favorite jacket made of woven silk and wool that inspired Jorge Simes’ first tile. Experimenting with the illusion of fiber, his first collection includes Raised Velvet, Twine and the original Silk & Wool. The challenge for the artist is to “extract all available visual allure when it comes to depth of brushwork, translucent films of gilding and reflection of light.” Simes is designing his next collection, a series of different patterns within a distinct style to emulate the essence of “quilting” the eglomise tiles into a bespoke surface. Trained as an art professor, Simes’ resurrection of a historic technique merged with his exquisite ability to replicate the integrity of thread is perhaps the essence of education.

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