Tile brand Ceramic District’s premium-quality, German-made products explicitly address the needs of architects and interior designers, empowering the creation of first-class ceramic architecture.
A poetically shot video created by Ceramic District features a sequence of scenes that present a peek behind the walls of a seemingly deserted production plant. Natural raw materials such as clay, feldspar, quartz and kaolin are shown going through various manufacturing steps: being scooped up by an excavator, trickling off conveyor belts, flowing through chutes, getting mixed in huge drums, before being fired and finally piled into neatly layered stacks of finished tiles.
In reality, of course, the production of ceramic tiles involves a variety of different people. Ceramic District was launched in 2020 as part of the Steuler Tile Group – one of Germany’s largest manufacturers of stoneware and porcelain tiles, with its origins in Mühlacker in Baden-Württemberg and family-run for four generations. The know-how of the Steuler brands is backed by over 150 years of tradition. With a refined selection of authentic materials, Ceramic District directly serves the needs of architects and designers, who are advised and supported in their projects by the company’s team of experts.
The latest additions to the product range are four interrelated yet individual collections – the first to be expressly designed for the Ceramic District portfolio. In developing the collections, the company’s designers and ceramists explored and tested current technical capabilities in order to meet the highest quality- and design demands. Each of the four collections features six-mm-thick porcelain stoneware that is processed and refined into serially produced one-off pieces.
With Feuergold, for example, real 24-carat gold is digitally printed onto the tile. Like a thin film, it overlays the anthracite-coloured porcelain surface allowing the original texture of the tile to subtly show through. Feuergold is intended for luxurious environments – hotels, spas or exclusive home interiors, where a touch of glamour is desired to make walls shimmer.
For the Quarzsprung collection, the product developers borrowed a term from the production of ceramics. This refers to a critical moment during the heating and cooling of a ceramic mass – the quartz inversion point – when the crystalline structure of quartz changes and alters its specific volume. During production, this material behaviour must be taken into account so that the object being fired does not develop cracks or fissures.
The chemical effect gives the collection its name, but the actual design mimics the flow of viscous glazes. ‘Like the other tile collections, the design was created in a production context,’ explains Stefan Grimmeisen, head of the newly established Ceramic District unit. A titanium dioxide glaze was poured onto an anthracite-coloured background and then fired. The numerous trials resulted in twelve reproducible patterns. Such surfaces are obviously difficult to simulate in a studio and even less so in graphics software. The twelve scanned motifs are digitally printed onto the 30x30 cm tiles and sealed beneath a glassy surface that protects them from mechanical and chemical impacts. Slight irregularities such as small hollows and grooves are intentional details of the tile design, which was conceived for wall treatments. In combination with monochrome tiles in anthracite, the Quarzsprung series offers an appealing contrast between imperfection and homogeneity.
The WabiSabi collection has a very similar typology, but each piece is truly one of a kind. During production, a metallic powder is applied with a sieve, which sinks into a ceramic glaze and gets fired at over 1,000 degrees Celsius. Depending on the incidence of light, this results in uniquely nuanced shadings. Three palettes were designed for WabiSabi, whose tiles can be used in a monochrome colour scheme or combined with one other. Here, too, small irregularities are intentional, changing colour depending on the perspective and incidence of light, with random structures creating captivating tiling layouts.
The most contemporary-looking design is the Streuwerk series. It is also the most versatile of the four collections. Like all collections, it is produced to order and can be easily customised. During production, a fine glass granulate is applied to the pieces, which melts into a pearly, semi-transparent relief pattern during firing. The designers at Ceramic District have developed a floral motif as well as three graphic patterns, and can also execute customer-specific motifs upon request. The three-dimensional surface not only generates an elegant reflection of light, it also serves a tactile function if required. ‘For example, attention markings can be integrated on the floor in front of stairways,’ says Stefan Grimmeisen. In addition, Streuwerk is slip-resistant, is suitable for wall and floor installation and comes in five combinable formats.
‘Poetry is truth dwelling in beauty,’ Scottish poet Robert Gilfillan once wrote. Ceramic District’s beauty is clear, while truth, in keeping with the message of the short film, can be found in the archaic: in manufacturing processes that still survive today, as well as in raw materials that are, for the most part, sourced regionally.