Early examples of ceramic tile can be traced back to ancient Egypt, China and Babylon; however, the tradition of tile making as we know it began with 13th century Moroccan zellige (mosaic) tile work. Later, other Middle East cultures added important technical knowledge to the process of creating architectural tile. During the Renaissance period, Italian craftsmen concentrated relief tiles, while throughout the rest of continental Europe, further diversification of tile-making techniques continued to spread, culminating in England, which had the largest influence on American tile production. The initial success of the American tile industry was dependent on the ceramic craftsmanship of immigrants who first began production in New England, using the styles and techniques of their homelands. As the nation grew, tile companies flourished and artisans began adopting a more American style of decoration, influenced by fresh history and a new environment. As with all American industrialization, the movement was from the east to the west coast. Along the way, tile became an essential element of the Arts and Crafts movement, which lasted in America through the mid 1920s. Eventually reaching the West Coast, Californian tile production favored Moorish or Aztec designs compatible with the Spanish architecture, popular at that time.Today’s strong interest in the Arts and Crafts movement, as well as the Spanish influence, has prompted a revival of tile making, with an emphasis on replicating those styles popular in the 20s. Come see the progression of tile throughout the past century and the reason for its resurgence in today’s architecture in Laying the Foundation: American Art Tile.