flora visits motawi tileworks, ann arbor

August 7, 2013

motawi tileworks, ann arbor

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I have been aware of Ann Arbor’s Motawi Tileworks for years, and thought I was familiar with their work. But I have also confused them with Pewabic Tile/Pottery of Detroit. Perhaps because Newal (pronounced somewhat like Noelle, I think). Motawi trained, after art school, at Pewabic.

I associated Motawi with earth tones, trees, landscapes and was so surprised when I looked at their tiles on their website. Motawi is so much more. Their colors are often vivid and I learned last week that they experiment with new palettes often. They have partnerships with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Charley Harper, Yoshiko Yamamoto and with Louis Comfort Tiffany design.

Most of their designs are original, such as this swallowtail, this koi pond, and this tile titled, “tropicana.” I love the tiny black birds.

Motawi sells installation tiles as well as gift tiles (that include an indent in the back for hanging). They also have a weekly 11am tour, which my friend Cath and I attended last week. The tour was wonderful and included the history of Motawi, as well as the Motawi Tilemaking process, and ended in the “seconds” section where prices are greatly reduced (seem to be 50% off).

I was surprised to see how many different people work on each and every Motawi tile. I counted 6 from start to finish, and that doesn’t include the design work.

I really loved the amazing tile fireplace pictured above. It was designed for, and installed at, an Architectural Digest conference.

Our tour was a little crowded with about 15 people, but we were told summer tours are usually quite full, with many out of town visitors in each group.

It was fun to get out and learn more about my this local business that produces nationally known tiles, and to see an artist making a living at her craft.

I did not end up buying any tiles; there were just too many to choose from and I have to decide where I want to hang them. Cath purchased the tree tile pictured above.

I can’t wait to visit the gift shop, and the seconds shop, again soon!

My photos don’t do the tiles justice. I think the best photos are on the Motawi Tile facebook page. Or, even better, you can see Motawi tiles up close and in person at galleries all over the US. See their list of locations here.

If you’re interested in more information on Nawal Motawi, read this great Ann Arbor Observer article from 2011. (It includes a cautionary business tale.)

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2 Responses to “flora visits motawi tileworks, ann arbor”

  1. MasonBentley Says:

    Adore these tiles! the floral with the bird are sublime! xxx

  2. AndrewKoldwell Says:

    It looks like Motawi changed their website around and these links no longer work. FYI, in case anyone noticed. Their page is still accessable at http://www.motawi.com instead.


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