Guild Fundamentals: Classics

by clé tile | published: Apr 01, 2024


clé guild fundamentals: classics

when clé began over 10 years ago, there was no concrete plan to develop our own tile, much less produce it. But looking back now, it seems inevitable. Our founder, Deborah Osburn, had long been mulling the idea of bringing centuries-old artisan techniques together with cutting edge production technology. In essence: recreating old-world tile in a modern ceramic studio. And so, in 2019 in a small, mid-century industrial building near the clé studio, the Guild was born.


clé guild and the Blaauw kiln


Getting Down to Fundamentals

Using local clay, simple glaze formulations and a Blaauw kiln, we created our first house-made thin brick tiles, a collection appropriately named Guild Fundamentals: classics.

True to its name, this is tile-making at its most essential, most elemental. Where modern, commercial tile is made from a carefully controlled cocktail of highly refined clays, Fundamentals is crafted using clay from a single source, altered very little once it’s dug from the ground. Because it’s a natural product, created over millennia by geological forces, the mix of elements is slightly different with each batch. As with the legendary handcrafted tile of Morocco, Italy and elsewhere around the world, the result is a product that beautifully expresses both a sense of place and the skill and care of the people creating it.

“We start with materials that are so simple and raw, humble and elemental,“ says Guild lead Eric VanderMolen, “and we take them through a process that fundamentally changes them on every level (visually, chemically) and wind up with something beautiful, different — something that has a sense of the maker and stays true to the source.”

So successful has the first Guild Fundamentals line proved that we’ve added to it with a new chapter in the story: clé Guild Fundamentals: Work Study.


guild fundamentals brick in matte white. Design: bowerbird architecture / photo: matthew williams


guild fundamentals brick in matte black

Glazed Expressions

VanderMolen and his team of artisans glaze and fire Fundamentals in small batches of white matte, white gloss, black matte, and black gloss, each glaze formulated of natural minerals and pigments and applied by hand to the tiles.

Our state-of-the-art Blaauw kiln, among the most high-tech, accurate, controlled and efficient kilns available, fires to 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit, lending this thin brick tile exceptional strength. That high-firing also causes the chemistry of the glaze to become more active and reactive, creating rich surfaces with wonderful variance in shading and texture and extraordinary luminescence. As VanderMolen puts it, “We encourage glazes to have a range of expression.”


guild fundamentals brick in black matte, gloss, and white matte, gloss

 The Golden Rule: Blend, Blend, Blend

Though that range of expression is more evident across the earthy palette of our second Guild collection, New California, even Fundamentals’ black and white isn’t — simply — black and white. Subtle variations in shade and texture from batch to batch and tile to tile, lend a dynamic sense of movement across surfaces. As with all the handcrafted tiles we carry, we advise you to sample Fundamentals: classics to get a sense of the variability and have your qualified installer open all the boxes at once and blend, blend, blend!

white matte

guild fundamentals: classics white matte offers a quiet freshness to the more basic staple white subway tile. the satin matte surface features very slight speckling. guild fundamentals’ white matte provides the perfect subtle look for any design, whether modern or classic.

white gloss

guild fundamentals white gloss takes bright gloss finish to a new place. as an elevated alternative to gloss subway tile, its light speckling and slight tonal variations give the tile timeless character. classic yet contemporary, this tile is timeless and enduring.

black matte

rich. deep. moody. these are just three of the feelings conjured when considering guild fundamentals black matte. the soft, dark lustrousness evokes a similar timelessness with the other fundamentals, in a subdued, captivating way.

black gloss

guild fundamentals: classics black gloss tile possesses a delicate shimmer, balanced by a slight dimpling of its surface. combined, the look conjures a weighty elegance that is deep and enduring. much like its matte counterpart, the distinctive characteristics of this tile give it a rich maturity not seen in any other glazed brick tile.

color studies + tile

Color studies are crucial for interiors where lighting can change throughout the day. materials, texture, and finish can all play a part in how a color “reads” in a room. tile is especially complicated for this very reason. variegation and variation can soften the intensity of a color — but also magnify the differences between adjacent colors.

but fear not, we’ve got you covered! we believe that redesigning your space shouldn’t be arduous. successful color pairings shouldn’t feel like a code to be deciphered, but an opportunity to tap into emotions and tell your story. you can’t do this by following trends. instead you need to find the story that you want to tell.

good to know

usage: the fundamentals collection can be used for interior floor, interior wall, exterior wall, shower floor, shower wall, steam shower, residential low traffic, backsplash, kitchen, fireplace surround, pool and fountain waterline (non-freeze thaw locations only).

additional information is available on each product page.

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