Design Stories | Around the Tileworks

It's never hard to choose which installation we will feature in Design Stories. There are hundreds of Motawi installations across the country...and some are even being designed right now from across the ocean. Sometimes, it's easy to forget to look in your own backyard. It dawned on us that for this issue of Design Stories, we should profile the installations around the Tileworks. See, we are about to have hundreds of guests at Motawi Tileworks this weekend for our Summer Mega Sale. For our readers who are local, we invite you to read about these installations and come see them yourselves this Saturday. We know many of our readers are from very far away. Please know, our door to you is always open and should you find yourself in Ann Arbor, please come and check us out!

Behold...the inside of Motawi.

We begin our tour with the hallway floor that leads customers from our studio gallery to our Boneyard. The Boneyard is where we collect all of our field tile overruns, our discontinued tiles and our perfectly imperfect polychrome tiles. As you might imagine, we've got lots of creative people working here at Motawi. Inspired by the loads of tile in the Boneyard, our team took it upon themselves to create this beautiful floor.

Floor tapestry leading from Studio Gallery to the Boneyard

Next is our newest project: completed just last month by a team of bulb glazers, production staff, design staff and retail staff, our staff ladies' room floor was created. This was literally like a giant puzzle and many hands made not only short work, but beautiful work. This restroom is open to the public during the sale, so please check it out. 

Left: Completed staff restroom floor; Top Right: the tiles laid out in our design library; Bottom Right: the installation process

The mural below is in our pressing area. This is a mural we made for a customer. Sometimes we make two murals to make sure we do it right. Based on our Riverscape seen in the background of our Pine Landscape series, it was originally commissioned for a kitchen backsplash.

Riverscape Mural over the pressing area

The stunning Armitage medallion graces our front entrance. This collection was made from an 800-pound panel that had been salvaged from the exterior of a Chicago building. It was scanned using laser technology to make a scaled-down version in modeling clay and then refined by hand. The original thought was to create the series as a part of our quest to bring this amazingly beautiful exterior decoration indoors, but as you can works both ways. If you walk a few steps away from the front, our back loading-dock entrance is also adorned with lovely tile. Our Halsted relief tiles surround the green door accompanied by luscious field tile and crowned with our polychrome Tapestry tile.

 Left: Armitage medallion adorning front entryway; Right: Halsted relief tiles surrounding back door with Tapestry polychrome

There are two fully constructed fireplaces here at the Tileworks so we can show customers close-up what we can do for installations. On the left, our stunning Armitage fireplace is glazed in a single color (5202 Granite) to show that even though the tiles are seemingly all one color, the tiles are brought to life by the way the glaze differs in each tile. The hearth opening itself is framed with our Halsted relief tiles. From a (hardly) monochromatic theme with the Armitage fireplace, the Fred fireplace is a stunning representation of how polychrome (multicolored) tile can be incorporated into an installation. This little fireplace is like a pet to us; we love seeing it everyday in the Boneyard, but it's up for adoption if you'd like!

Left: Armitage Fireplace in glaze 5202 Granite; Right: Fred Fireplace, Jade

If you've ever been to Ann Arbor, you know we've got a slight obsession with fairy doors. The door at the Tileworks was built my many little hands last year to commemorate the opening of Motawi Downtown inside the Ann Arbor Art Center. It lives to the left of our front door and often times has tokens left for visiting fairies.

So, if you're here this weekend...or any day, please come see us! We'd love to show you around!

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Got a Story to Share?

If you've got a Motawi tile project you'd like to see featured in an upcoming edition of Design Stories, contact us at, or call us at 734.213.0017.