THE METTLACH TILES, A STORY IN THEMSELVES

We’d like to invite you on a journey back in time through the more than 260-year history of Villeroy & Boch. Discover the history and stories of this family company that had its beginnings in 1748 in a small pottery in the village of Audun-le-Tiche in Lorraine.

In the German-French border region, the Villeroy and Boch families experienced at close quarters the development of Europe with all its economic upswings, wars and revolutions and understood how to shape the times and use them to advantage. However, ceramic was always at the centre of the company.

To gain an insight into the family company based in Mettlach, we have to cast our gaze to the floor: in the middle of the 19th century, the innovative and far-sighted Eugen Boch, whose hobbies included archaeology, had the revolutionary idea of creating an industrially manufactured floor covering based on Roman floor mosaics that was to be both attractive and offer good value for money.

What started off as rhombi measuring five by five centimetres were gradually developed into tiles of varying sizes and outstanding quality that could be produced on an industrial scale in the large factory in Mettlach; these became known as the “Mettlach tiles”.

The robust and beautifully designed tiles were an unparalleled success. Many attempted to copy them. However, no-one succeeded in achieving the high quality of the original. Many of the original old tiles can still be found today in many historical locations. For example, in Cologne Cathedral or the Holland Tunnel that links Manhattan island with the mainland of New Jersey. In 1899, Russian Tsar Nicholas II travelled in wonderful splendour on a royal train to Germany with his family and court. Even the two cows that were taken on the journey to provide the royals with the best Russian milk enjoyed luxurious accommodation in a carriage fitted with the robust Mettlach tiles in blue and white. Also popular in the very best of circles, the tiles were even laid at the feet of aristocracy and rich nobility on the legendary Titanic. Fragments of the tiles that accompanied the maiden voyage of the luxury ship were rescued from the depths of the ocean.

With the Mettlach tiles and other developments, Villeroy & Boch succeeded in creating not only outstanding products but also new style worlds and entire living areas. But that’s another story that you’ll be able to read about here in the future.