Terracotta: Ancient and Modern

by Erika Woelfel


Used through out history in art, trade, and design, terracotta may be one of the most ancient materials to survive into modern times. We often think of terracotta as a material for making every-day clay pots or brick and tiles, but that perception is changing.

Lowly terracotta is seeing its status move from low design to high design as architects and designers embrace its versatile beauty. Look for terracotta to be stretched to the limits in new architectural projects like the Expo 2010 Shanghai, Tate Modern Extension in London and the Municipal Library in Greve, Italy.




New designs in furniture and lighting are also taking shape around terracotta.


My personal perspective: It is a really great color to work with on the walls in your home!


These vessels could have been made today or 1,000 years ago. Whether hand-crafted or mass produced by machinery, terra cotta is one of the most timeless materials available today.

Because of its durability and versatility, fired clay tiles have been used for centuries in warm climates as a functional and beautiful building material. Tile roofs can now be fit with solar panels to keep up with the need for renewable energy sources.

Clay pots of all sizes and shapes are a graceful addition to any garden.

A new Chinese tea set. New clay is the color of a bright penny; with time and use it takes on a brown patina.

Terracotta takes on a playful form in circular geometric shapes.

As a color at home, terracotta ranges from golden yellow to dark brick orange. Cobalt blue accents make a striking combination in this kitchen.

Terracotta walls are a warm accompaniment to hardwood floors and reclaimed lumber.

Colorfully yours,








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