The late 19th and early 20th century was a period of transition architecturally, producing a wide variety of regional and national architectural styles driven by a desire to create houses that fit visually into the natural environment and influenced by the vernacular design and cultural influences that created these popular aesthetic movements during during this era.
The creative versatility inherent to unglazed porcelain mosaics is evidenced in the way mosaic designs adapted to these popular architectural period styles.
Queen Anne homes, popular in the US during the Victorian era, were characterized by a decorative exuberance with their polychrome painted facades, wrap around porches, and tiled entrances. Mosaic patterns of that period are usually very colorful and framed with a decorative border.
“Art for all” was the driving principle of this movement. Art Nouveau originated in Europe at the end of the 19th century and featured curvaceous lines and natural motifs. Mosaics during this time are characterized by florals and nature elements.
The eighteenth century archeological excavations lead to a rediscovery of classical antiquity. The ancient mosaic patterns uncovered in these digs were classical in tone with the Greek key most widely used.
The bungalow home imparts a sense of coziness and stands in contrast to the formality of the preceding Victorian era. Mosaic patterns here are simple with the color themes closely matched to the wall colors.
Appreciated for their charm and old-world feel, the Tudor cottage style took hold after 1905, coincident with the American Arts & Crafts movement—another medieval revival. Asymmetric design and a brick, stone or stucco exterior create a fairytale quality.
Craftsman homes emphasized craft and natural materials such as wood, brick, stone, glass and of course, tile, which offered functional beauty intrinsic to these homes. Porcelain mosaic designs were composed of rich colors and earthy tones were representative.
The Art Deco period embodied faith in progress and modern machinery, featured geometric shapes, rectilinear patterns and colorful stylization of the organic and mechanical. Mosaics were characterized by geometrics and rectilinear lines and lavish use of color.
Art Moderne – or Streamline Moderne – took its inspiration from the growth of speed, travel and technology. Wall surfaces were typically light and trimmed with bright or darker colors and the mosaics echoed these color tones.
A forward looking style advocating simplicity in form, usage of readily available materials and mass production. Mosaics of this era were characterized by modular shapes, using variations on classic patterns like the checkerboard, spiral and weaves in colors coordinated with the walls.