clé granny squares: our first tile drop

by clé tile | published: Mar 30, 2022

In the spirit of pushing the boundaries of surfaces and designing emboldened, clé (again) goes where other tile companies don’t.

we’re introducing tile drops.

tile drops from clé are limited editions of tiles inspired by what’s on our design radar. the drops will land (gently) when we’re feeling inspired: no schedule, no season, no collection we’re trying to fill out. it’s our way of capturing the moment, flexing our creative muscles, having fun, and being just a bit cheeky.

as clé founder deborah osburn says, “sometimes you just have to break a few rules to have some fun.”

our first drop: granny squares, based on the latest trend to hit the runways and taking handcrafted to a whole new level—think haute cabin core. spotted at marni, prada,
j.w. anderson, ulla johnson, colville, bode, and more.

clé granny squares are cheeky, joyful, and fun—but more subtle than you’d think. brought to life in our handcrafted cement, these feel way more graphical and modern than that crocheted throw buried deep in your closet.


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ever wondered where the granny square comes from? we did. the granny square made its debut in 1891 in an issue of the art of crocheting that showed an engraving depicting a square of woven yarn. the magazine cited the pattern as perfect for “robes” (a term, in those times for blankets—rather à propos for our times) and added that they can be easily made from “odds and ends of fancy colors left over from other crochet work.”



thereafter, granny squares thrived whenever times called for thrift. frontier women were known to unravel old socks and sweaters, repurposing the yarn for blankets made from granny squares. (it may have been during this time that the granny square got its name: while everyone else was running around doing manual labor, the older folks were tasked with sewing all the squares together.) and granny squares became popular again during the depression era, as they could be made from any old scrap of yarn.

the humble pattern boomed again in the sixties and seventies. this time, though, it was in reaction to mass-produced, machine-made, slick design and a call to authenticity, craft, individuality, and humanity. it’s an ethos that feels very of our moment.

so what’s the future for granny squares? as we know, fashion happens in cycles: after this round of popularity, we’re in no doubt that the granny square will trend again.

clé founder deborah osburn—an ardent fan of fashion—had been noticing the granny square motif crop up in streetwear and social media, accelerating into a full-blown trend in 2021/2.

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deborah says, “i’ve always loved the 70’s vibe and the granny square feels so iconic of that era. seeing it embraced by a new generation in fashion and design has given this otherwise homespun motif an artful spin. that’s what made it perfect for our first tile drop: something unexpected and offbeat that adds fun, serendipity, and spontaneity to what can be a staid material. bringing it to life in cement felt so right: taking something that feels so hard-edged and functional, bringing it lighthearted warmth.”

clé bonus. get the vibe.

see: granny squares, of course

hear: the carpenters (then check out sonic youth’s edgier take on ‘superstar’ followed by roberta flack’s broody, moody, impressionist jazz version.)

smell: patchouli

taste: tartine’s country loaf with some homemade burrata, or perhaps a vegan casserole

touch: granny squares, in clé’s signature silky-matte cement