Design Notes Archive



Approach the threshold to one of London’s countless Victorian buildings and chances are you’ll find checkerboard tiles underfoot. The simple combination of squares is a pattern that goes back millennia of course. Consider the ancient checkerboard fresco on the ceiling of Lazlo’s Tomb of Leopards. It’s a particularly stunning example in the Etruscan Necropolis of Monterozzi, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, designers like Adam Bray are incorporating checkers in ways that feel decidedly modern—keep your eyes out for a recently photographed kitchen he designed that we got an early look at.

We are particularly smitten with this bathroom in a Parisian flat designed by Suleïma Ben Achour and Antoine Lallement, the duo behind Studio Classico. In a nod to the homeowners Irish-roots, they carried the green palette from his bedroom into the bathroom, brightening it up with cream (white would have felt stark). Checks appear in a range of sizes from the ceramic tiles to the tartan curtains which were custom-made by Scotland Shop. “We try to avoid an over-designed effect in our projects so we do small defaults on purpose, like varying the scale of the checkered patterns,” says Achour.

In Morocco designer Veere Grenney enhanced a classic checkerboard floor by layering a vintage Berber rug on top. The pattern-on-pattern effect makes the whole floor act as one eye-catching element, while the rug’s shaggy construction softens the overall look. Squares are echoed in the latticework bathtub surround and then subtly repeated up the wall. Try Macro Tribal for similar Moroccan rugs or expand your search to Tibetan checkerboard styles. Also consider African kente cloths which boast more complex checkered patterns that would translate beautifully to drapery. We love the selection at Adire African Textiles in Alfie’s Antique Market.

In a twist on checkerboard, American designer Juniper Tedhams combined three colorways of Moroccan tiles in a random pattern on her kitchen wall. It’s a dramatic backdrop that’s balanced by simple industrial-stye tables and the warm wood tones of the cabinetry, floorboards, and baskets (used to store recycling). Try our square Hanley tiles for similar effect and rest assured, it's a style that will endure the ages.  

© Soprintendenza Archeologica del Lazio e dell’Etruria Meridionale, fotografia di Matilde Marzullo; Studio Classico; David Oliver; Alexandra Rowley