Once upon a time I had that seminal experience of recent college graduates everywhere, the grand backpack-laden, hostel-sleeping “European Vacation.” My singular interest was Spain, so I spent that summer exploring the varied landscapes and diverse populations of that great peninsula. Among Spain’s manifold landmarks and historical enclaves, the one that still resonates is the Alhambra Palace in Southern Spain. And it’s exactly this iconography that coalesces in my imagination as I gaze on the stunningly intricate Echo Collection of Cement Tiles by Granada Tile.
Cement Tiles from the Echo Collection. Designed by Marcos Cajina. Manufactured by Granada Tile.
Granada Tile Offers Aesthetic Variety and Ecological Awareness
Somewhat paradoxically, this Los Angeles-based manufacturer of cement and concrete tiles owes its beginnings not to the Old World but to the new. For founder and lead designer Marcos Cajina cites the city of Granada in his native Nicaragua as Granada Tile’s philosophical birthplace: “The company derives its name and inspiration from the beautiful, historic city of Granada in Nicaragua, where historic cement tiles grace homes, hotels, restaurants and civic buildings.”
Even so, I can’t help but connect the Echo Collection’s pinpoint intricacies, its dizzying array of tight lines, its skillful modulation of geometric shapes with the Moorish excesses of the Alhambra. The Echo Collection definitely has a Spanish aesthetic, but—like each of Granada Tile’s six distinct collections—it’s versatile enough to work with a variety of décor: “the bold patterns and dynamic colors can look just as beautiful in a historic mansion as in a new loft.”
As Granada Tiles are handcrafted in Nicaragua and throughout Central America, the manufacturer is committed to helping preserve the natural beauty, lush biodiversity, and artisanal techniques of the area. The company’s comprehensive environmental policy stipulates sun drying and curing (instead of an energy intensive kiln); recycling all water for re-use during manufacturing; using local materials like sand, soapstone, and limestone; and re-using all concrete waste, including cement and cement dust from tiles that don’t pass quality control.
About the Manufacturer: Granada Tile founder Marcos Cajina has always had an explorer’s thirst for knowledge. When he was 10, he commandeered his mother’s sewing machine to “create a Kung-Fu style backpack and explore his native Nicaragua.” During his travels, Cajina became smitten with the historic cement tile floors of Central America. Further adventures led him to France and throughout Europe, where he gleaned the skills to refine his manufacturing techniques of this 150-year old process. Today, Granada Tiles have earned a certain cachet all across the U.S. Their long-lived durability, inherent scratch-resistance, and excellent pigment absorption have made them the choice for high profile restaurants like Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Beverly Hills and Soho’s 1534.