The Art of Hand-Painted Tiles Behind Boca do Lobo’s Luxury Furniture

Being one of the most representative art forms of the Portuguese culture, the renowned hand painted tiles reflect a tradition with hundreds of years.

Portugal, the country of whimsical beaches, Porto wine, seafood, and also azulejos. Even people who aren’t familiar with the term, they visually recall the ceramic tiles painted in blue artistic patterns, repeated in many historical buildings or as rich accent elements such as house numbers. Profoundly linked to architectural use, it is usually applied as wall covering decoration, layering large surface areas on both the inside and outside of buildings.

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Being one of the most representative art forms of the Portuguese culture, the hand-painted tiles reflect a tradition with hundreds of years, and it often portrays scenes from our history or its fabulous sights. Azulejo is a clay or ceramic plate piece, generally with a square shape decorated with glazed colorful designs, and the majority of tiles shows Moorish designs which have curvilinear, lacelike and looping designs, or even have geometric or floral motifs.

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A very ornate yet refined element which inspired the Heritage series from Boca do Lobo, a collection that displays different layers, each one illustrating a different story. Among the remaining Portuguese artists of azulejo and a member of our team is Mr. Araújo, a brilliant mind who is always looking to create antique things and historic panels yet in a forward-thinking way. An artist who loves to draw and to paint since he was a little boy.

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“I wanted to study Fine Arts, but my mother worked at a ceramics factory where they had a very old painting section. I had the opportunity to work only for the summer holidays, but actually, I love it and I stayed for years.”

Laying the chequered patterns is a slow and complex and therefore expensive practice, a factor which gradually and sadly led to the disappearance of the art. “The master at the company I worked for believed in a very important thing: continuation, to guarantee the transition of knowledge from generation to generation”. At the time, the colleagues of Mr. Araújo were 60 years old and the manager was worried enough to bring in young people.

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“We had the opportunity to learn with those masters that left us with that legacy”. At the moment, those painters abandoned the craft or prefer to work in their private ateliers. It’s hard to teach the new generation while working on their own. “The way we perform today is the same it has being done for the last 40 years, and certainly how it will be done for the next 40 years.”

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THE ART BEHIND THE PROCESS

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The process is very meticulous. A tile is chosen to see if it is cracked, the good ones have a hollow sound when hit against each other.  The drawing is on a parchment paper that is drawn with a graffiti pen and stamped with a coal pencil in the tile. The paintwork is done with water-based paint, a powder that is mixed with water to work the density.

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To have the paint in the exact thickness requires knowledge: not too watery and not too strong. If it is too thick, the brush starts dragging, if it is too watery, it will be difficult to achieve the expected tone. The outline is made from the contour brush, and artists keep brushing, avoiding it gets laid on the bottom. After it, the background is painted with a swath brush to highlight the piece, then the dark shades for the highlights and more watery paint for the shades until the frame is completed. The azulejo goes to the oven and the rest of the coal disappears. It is done.

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The challenge today has been to find new aesthetic concepts since the tile itself will be always the same. “When Boca do Lobo approach me for the Heritage project, I was thrilled. It is a very beautiful piece, with all the tiles, glass details and the interior in gold leaf. The Heritage series features many artists, including Jorge Colaça, a great master of Portuguese Azulejo”.

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Originally, azulejos appeared in Portugal under the Moorish people in the XV century. Although there are many people who claimed the word is a derivation of “azul”, the Portuguese word for “blue”; the word originally Arabic and comes from az-zulayj, translated as “polished stone”. Since then, no other country has been used the art with such consistency and in so many ways for over five centuries, meaning it is already part of the Portuguese soul, earning the recognition of the most meaningful place for this timeless skill. There is no surprise that one of the most iconic pieces from Boca do Lobo honors this treasurable fine art.

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HERITAGE SIDEBOARDS

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Hand-painted tiles have gained a privileged place in architecture throughout the centuries. Portugal has adopted them like no other country has and in order to honor the Portuguese hand-painted tiles, Boca do Lobo created Heritage Sideboard. This piece presents a different number of layers, where each one tells a different story.

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Heritage is an elegant luxury furniture piece to compliment the decoration of any interior setting. A highly coveted ensemble of hand-painted tiles like those of an expertly curated art collection brings together master artisans and craftsmen for Boca do Lobo’s Heritage. In its interior, there is one door and four drawers, fully lined with gold leaf.

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HERITAGE DINING TABLE

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The Heritage Dining Table, much like its sibling Heritage Sideboard and Cabinet, is a highly sophisticated piece inspired by Portuguese history through the use of traditional hand-painted azulejo tiles. Its noble design features bold lines, with alternating polished brass, beveled mirror and azulejo strips and a tempered glass top, which reflect your dining room’s finest elements, yet adding a touch of warmth and finesse.

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HERITAGE NIGHTSTAND

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The Heritage Nightstand is influenced by the Azulejo, a landmark in Portuguese culture. Originating from the Arabic word zellige, this traditional hand-painted tile that can be found all over the country, from churches to houses and gardens and was often used to tell tales of Portuguese history. Superb for any graceful ambiance, this unique nightstand references the importance of history, our ancestors, and heritage, with a touch of blue or sepia glamour, for cold or warmer looks.

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COLECCIONISTA BOOKCASE

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The drawers’ typology can be chosen according to your tastes and preferences. You may even be inspired by all Boca do Lobo pieces to chose different types of drawers. This Coleccionista can be placed on or against a wall or it can serve as a separator division. The drawers have double sided in order you can decorate both divisions, as well as to ensure the functionality of this piece of furniture.

 

Boca do Lobo’s most iconic projects with Heritage designs:

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Heritage Sideboard – Spanish embassy, Lisbon
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Heritage Sideboard – Salone del Mobile 2017
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Bespoke Heritage Sideboard – Cococo Restaurant, St. Petersburg
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Bespoke Heritage Dining Table – Fairmont Hotel, Washington
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