Inspired by the cement tiles in the courtyard of their 250 year old Moroccan house and based on the 1200 year old tradition of handmade tiles, Popham Design was launched by Caitlin and Samuel Dowe-Sandes in Marrakech.
A friend of mine is good friends with Caitlin and Samuel, the Dowe-Sandes are Americans who lived in NYC before Morocco. I wish I had met them when we were in New York. Caitlin and I have been in touch and she has graciously shared some additional pictures and information with me.
They are sensitive to the ecological impact of their business which I think is important. Caitlin wrote to me the process in which their tiles are made. “Our encaustic cement tiles are made using a hydraulic press and are air dried; this method uses less energy than the firing technique used to manufacture ceramic tiles. In addition to a low embodied energy, cement tiles are considered an eco-friendly building material because they are very durable and non-toxic (cement has very low VOC emissions). As much as possible, we source the materials that go into the tiles (cement, sand, marble) locally. Most of these come from within a 25-mile radius of our factory with the exception of a white cement that is imported from Egypt and our pigments, which come from Belgium. We use two types of sand: black sand which is sourced right here in Marrakech and a yellow sand that comes from Safi, which is 80 miles from Marrakech. The marble powder is a reclaimed material. Hard flooring surfaces, like cement tiles, are better for allergy sufferers as well because they are easier to keep free of allergens than rugs or carpets. Each popham design tile is handmade by skilled artisans in our factory in Marrakech. We use locally found materials and very little energy goes into the tile production.”
Here is a look at the process: