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clé guild

clé's own contribution to the library of prima materia

it all started when clé founder deborah osburn was looking for a glazed thin brick that could hold its own in any space, because of the integrity of its materials and the expertise and mastery of its makers. in other words, a brick that would fit in with clé's concept of "prima materia," ancient surfaces that have remained relevant century upon century.

unable to find it, she resolved to create it. and thus the clé guild was born in a humble building behind the clé studio.

since the first two lines — clé guild fundamentals and clé new california — were launched in 2019 and 2020 respectively, they have already become icons in their own right. long waitlists due to high demand have not deterred clients from this ultra-small batch tile, handcrafted by eric vandermolen and his team of artisans at the guild. we are honored to be adding our own guild tiles to our library of prima materia.

as befits an artisan endeavor, every day at the guild is a bit of an adventure, the opposite of a tightly engineered, set-it-and-forget-it production process.

it’s the (al)chemical reactions between the simplest of materials — clay and glaze and heat — that creates that quintessence. one small, simple change in the natural clay composition, for example, will have a dramatic effect on the glaze (because glaze is not “just” a surface applied to a clay body), and thus a dramatic effect on the look of that entire look or floor. and orchestrating all this takes mastery, integrity. and lots of practice.


"our kilns are beloved for their efficiency and neutrality. we rely on the quiet wildness and variability of our materials for their effects and subtle surprises. the kiln, however, is beautiful in that it becomes invisible, we can set it with great precision and allow the subtleties of the materials to softly sing their own song without being drowned out by the kiln effects."

-eric vandermolen

the result? a sense of aliveness in each tile, made even more evident on an entire wall or floor where the infinite variation comes to the fore. happy accidents in color and texture formed by creating the conditions for them to happen — rather than through mechanical intervention.

it’s the literal power and mystery of nature, molded only slightly. you feel it before you see it, the way a bach cello suite played by yo yo ma sounds just so or the way that overcoat from the row folds in that specific way when lifted by the breeze.

the first collection to come out of the guild was fundamentals, a small-batch, hand-crafted tile that reflects a quiet luxury and is featured in both white matte/white gloss and black matte/black gloss.

shop clé guild fundamentals

our latest collection is new california, inspired by the landscapes of the northern california coast and named for the flora that inhabits them. it features nine different surfaces that encompass texture, variegation, sheen, opacity, and color. equally at home in traditional and modern settings, new california echoes the artistry and aesthetic of california’s influential mid-century craft movement.

shop clé guild new california