Nawal Motawi founded Motawi Tileworks in 1992. A University of Michigan art school graduate with a restless spirit and an interest in applied arts, Nawal moved to Detroit to learn tilemaking at Detroit’s storied Pewabic Pottery. She returned to Ann Arbor after just two years to begin making her own tiles in a garage studio and selling them from a stand she rented at the local farmers’ market.
Today, Nawal is still designing and making tiles in Ann Arbor. In 2011, she purchased her clay supplier, Rovin Ceramics moving it from Taylor, Michigan to Ann Arbor. Combined, the two companies employ more than 30 people.
Motawi tiles have been sold in the Ann Arbor Art Center for over twenty years. In 2014, Nawal brought her entire line of Motawi tiles to downtown Ann Arbor. Motawi Downtown opened in August, 2014 in the front part of the Ann Arbor Art Center.
Nawal is proud to be both a Michigan native and an Arab American. Nawal’s father, Kamal El Din Hussein Motawi is a first generation immigrant to the United States. In the early 1960s he came to Michigan State University to study food science. It was at MSU where he met Nawal’s mother, Karen Kitson. Together, they raised their family in Fremont, Michigan. Nawal has an impressive teen-aged son, Kitson Dong.
Recently, Motawi tiles have been featured in Detroit Home Magazine and The Ann Arbor News, and on WDIV-Local 4 News, and WJBK-FOX 2.
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