They grace manors and village houses alike. Tiles have been an essential part of Mediterranean interior design for many centuries. Originally precious, they became all the more popular when a new manufacturing method made them more affordable. In the 1850s the invention of cement tiles in Catalonia spread to the Balearic Islands in no time. These hydraulic tiles have been preserved in many traditional bars, restaurants but also in private homes.
The new type of tiles was cheaper mainly because they no longer had to be glazed in the oven but were hydraulically pressed and air-dried. And they were designed with fantastic ornamental patterns and colors. Making them an indispensable feature of Art Nouveau and Catalan Modernisme. Subsequently, the manufacture of hydraulic tiles almost became an art in itself.
One of the best places on Mallorca to admire them is Can Prunera. Today a unique Museum of Modernism, the former early 20th century family house is almost unchanged. Every room features original furniture, decoration and its own pattern of hydraulic tiles, adorning it like an expensive oriental rug. Or sporting floral designs like impressions of the beautiful garden.
Although hydraulic tiles are in vogue again today, there are only a few manufacturers left. Huguet in Campos is one of the last on the island.