Meet the Founder
I am Stephanie Dyer, designer and creator of Archipelago Tile. Upon discovery of the medium of cement tile, I quickly developed a lasting passion. With a background in Interior Design, the medium immediately spoke to my closely-held tenants of integrating art into architecture, using sincere and time-tested materials, and seeking genuine lasting beauty.
An Archipelago, like a field of tile, is a collection of individual parts; grouped together they form a like minded community, a perfect system, an exceptional destination.
As the name suggests, the concept for Archipelago Tile is a chain of islands. Each island does not exist alone; rather it is a network of individual environments that form a collection, or community. The name nods to the regions where cement tile has traditionally been popular—tropical climates where indoor and outdoor spaces are often seamlessly blended, and therefore equally adorned. One can’t help but envision a destination—someplace we long to arrive at and relax into. It is my hope that each Archipelago Tile installation will subtly remind us that which is desired is attained.
My inspiration for the designs draws on historical cues. Most of the traditional pattern repeats are achieved by 4 tiles, each rotated 90 degrees, to create a central motif. When tessellated, each 4-corner union reveals its own pattern. I was instinctively drawn to this sequence and inspired to explore it in a new light. What I found were reoccurring themes that carry significant personal meaning.
Whether angular or curvilinear, all of my designs possess lines that diverge, often intersect, and reunite. To me they reflect the space that exists between individuality and togetherness—lines that travel solitary paths only to meet again, often at the corners where one tile meets the others. While the individual path is a critical component, it is only within this space of togetherness that the true pattern becomes evident. What resonates is the power of connectivity and community, a concept only further strengthened in numbers. In a field, this tile mirrors the human condition—we are all at once separate and united; an archipelago of individual parts, perhaps best understood in its entirety.
I confess I have a real love/hate relationship with the passing of time; it creates an anxiety in me, both as an artist and as a person. On the one hand, I crave change and look forward to that which is new, different and exciting; on the other, I long for a solid foundation I know I can trust. I often feel like I’m racing against the clock to create a lasting contribution in my life. Archipelago Tile gives me the chance to find creative stability in a chaotic world by offering art that is timeless, permanent, and grounded in the earth.
It is this pursuit of a lasting impression that drew me to this medium. My designs can—and are—applied to a variety of materials, but this collection differs in its ability to quite literally be cemented in place and in time. It is a contribution that draws on historical roots, and poses an emotional relevance in our digitized age. I envision time and activity moving all around this tile—like time-lapsed photography—and it exists; calm and present, as it silently contributes a little everyday… to the collective well-being of those who interact with it.
I believe these extraordinary tiles, unmatched in design, quality, and performance, speak to individuals’ needs of connecting with the built environment. I have followed a passion for a medium, and blended it with my love of pattern and modern sensibility. This collection truly is a labor of love.
Many thanks for your interest in Archipelago Tile, and I hope to connect with you on your next project!
Stephanie Dyer, Owner
About the Product
A modern story infuses a timeless craft in the Archipelago Cement Tile collection. All tiles are completely handmade, comprised of natural materials, and are cured rather than fired. This unique manufacturing process, perfected in France over 150 years ago, has stood the test of time and has traveled the globe, giving this medium a compelling green, global, and historic story. Incredibly durable and suitable for commercial/residential, interior/exterior, floor and wall applications, the Archipelago Tile collection consists of six designs, two colorways of each, all sized 10″x10″. Solid color tiles are available in 10”x10” (flat) and 6”x10” (bullnose) sizes for borders or field applications. Archipelago additionally offers design services upon request, including rendered layouts to help better envision your specific project.
Archipelago cement tiles are manufactured in Nicaragua at a reputable facility committed to environmental sustainability. The production process starts first with a flat steel plate encased in a steel frame. The tiles are made upside down—the pattern is achieved by a stencil that resembles a cookie cutter, called a divider. While traditional dividers are made of cast bronze, contemporary forms are constructed of 1 mm sheets of “sweet iron” (or “hierro dulce” in Spanish), that are painstakingly cut and welded into precise forms. The completed divider is secured inside the steel frame in preparation for the colored mixture.
Each of the colors are mixed in batches to suit the order size. This mixture of pigmented cement, termed “la mezcla de colores” in Spanish (“the color mix”), is a thick liquid material comprised of white cement, marble powder, and color pigments. The colors are poured into each of the divider compartments and agitated to remove any air bubbles. The divider is then removed, allowing the various color zones to fuse together. An intermediate layer composed of equal-parts cement and fine sand is lightly sprinkled over the design, binding the colored layer to the cement body of the tile. The bulk, or base, of the tile is then evenly applied—a dry pack cement layer consisting of cement and sand. When the desired thickness is achieved, a metal plate, or crown, is placed on top. The whole assembly is then positioned under a hydraulic press and pressed at a rate of 2,000 pounds per square inch. Once the crown and frame is removed the tile can be handled with ease, and is placed in a sectioned crate to dry for 24 hours.
After a brief drying time, the tiles are submerged in water to add the moisture required for successful curing. Next they are transferred to a warehouse for ten days, where they are protected from light and air currents. Upon quality control inspection, they are packed and reside in storage for a total of four weeks for final curing before being shipped to their ultimate destination.
This remarkable process yields a 5/8” thick tile with an approximate 1/8” of through-body color that gradually wears like stone over time. Due to the nature of the hydraulic pressed process, the material is incredibly dense and durable. The result is a work of art to be enjoyed for generations.