Ateliers Zelij

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A human adventure

Ateliers Zelij was founded by Delphine Laporte & Samir Mazer in the late 90’s to bring Moroccan zellige to a new era and reinvent its traditional use. Their sensitivity and their degrees in Industrial Design also led them to explore other materials: cement tiles, and recently stone & terrazzo.

Our motto ?!

To dare, to break codes, to invent a language and to create a singular aesthetic: Ateliers Zelij is more than just a tiles maker. In our DNA there is an understanding of the materials we chose, a vision of its use and, above all, at heart to preserve its essence.

We take our profession of Designer seriously with a desire to bring each of these products into a new era thanks to our knowledge and passion, between art and design.

To implement our vision and to ensure the quality of our products it is essential to work with carefully selected raw materials and respect ancestral manufacturing techniques, mostly hand-made. This means maintaining a close relationship with our workshops partners, overseeing production processes, and ensuring premium quality control.

We stand by the quality of what we produce to achieve our goal: bring these noble and sensory materials into your interiors and projects for them to provide well-being and contemplation. Thanks to this solid network of knowledge and collaborations, we’ll be happy to assist professional and private clients from the projects with gentle simplicity to the most extravagant ones !



A love affair

Zellige is not just a word, and behind « zellige » there is a deep meaning, knowledge and understanding of this material. There is an art.
Genuine zellige is made by the hands of Master Craftsmen, called Mâalems, who have passed down the secrets of this art through the ages. To protect this know-how, the Moroccan Ministry of Artisanat created the label « Zellige de Fez ». We are committed to respecting this culture and therefore this material, which is why we are proud to produce our zellige respecting the specifications of this demanding label.

So how to recognize a real zellige?

This know-how has existed since the 12th century, and is a legacy of the great Al Andalus period which has been transmitted orally over the ages.
All our production is done by hand: from drying to enameling, including cutting with a marteline. This very simple and kind of intimidating object is an ode to delicacy in the hands of Moroccan Mâalems. In the ateliers, magic floats in the air …
The singularity of a genuine zellige is also due to the wood-fired oven. This capricious and captivating cooking method reveals what no gas oven can ever achieve: an absolutely unique sensitivity to the material.

Today zellige is well-know and desired because because of its unique vibration. But not all them are genuine, some just fake nuances and irregularity, so it is important for us at Ateliers Zelij to tell its story and stand by its true nature.



Looking for the authenticity

Invented in France in the 19th century, Etienne LARMANDE a public works contractor had a fantastic idea : cement tile he patented in 1859 to produce printed patterns comparable to stone mosaics at reasonable costs. The manufacture of our cement tiles is still almost identical today.

We work from a mold that defines the format and a divider that defines the pattern. We can create divider from a drawing, which will be soldered by a craftsman. Then we inject a mixture of marble powder, white cement and Bayer pigment of 4mm into the divider of, which is also called a wear layer. The divider is then removed from the mold, and on top of it is applied a cement / sand screed to obtain a thickness varying from 12 to 18 mm.

The mold is then closed and placed in a press to compact and assemble the entire wear layer and screed.
The tile is then unmolded, hydrated and placed in a dryer.

And to make sure it’s perfect there is a quality control of our products to ensure the respect of the colors, the thicknesses and the quality of the pattern.



A new field of exploration

This collection begun with a project initiated by Aesop in 2018 and resulted the creation of a marble mosaic inspired by the floors of the Olivetti Foundation floors in Venice created by Carlo Scarpa. During the process we fell under the spell of Portuguese stones and a workshop near Porto.
In Portugal, stone is a very serious matter resulting from a long tradition, the soils are rich there. And it is at the very heart of Portuguese careers that we have found a renowned partner. This collection is the result of a collaboration with a team of passionate people who shared with us an ageless know-how. Our stones and terrazzo comes from Portugal and are produced by craftsmen, masters in textures, sizes and assembly. It is therefore a guarantee and expertise on stone and a high quality product which allies with the spirit of innovation and the fertile imagination of Ateliers Zelij.
This is an extraordinary new field of experimentation where the very trendy Terrazzo is now associated with the noblest of stone mosaics.

This collection is not only an artistic direction, but it is also a reflection on the valorization of what is considered as waste in the building : because we work on mosaics it allow us to treat stone and terrazzo in small format, this particularity has led us to re-use exceptional materials by isolating defects and minimizing losses. And the thicknesses help to reduce transport costs and thus the impact on the environment. We met the amazing team of a workshop near Porto, which knew how to preserve real savoir-faire and source local materials: it was love at first sight… What an extraordinary field of experimentation and a new opportunity for us to play with these noble and timeless materials!



A safe bridge between tradition and modernity

Ateliers Zelij is a French brand but also a multicultural adventure mainly based in Morocco. Based on values ​​of dialogue and mutual respect with a deep respect for know-how and the craftsmen who hold them, our challenge today is to maintain and promote the freedom to do in gestures, postures while ensuring an environment of safe and healthy work.

For a production between heritage and modernity, Ateliers Zelij is committed to:

The guarantees of the Labor Code Clauses in the country of production and respecting the minimum legal full-time working age set at 15 years old
Ensure a safe and healthy working environment.
The production of zellige is done according to ancestral techniques, often sitting on the floor for enameling and cutting in a specific posture. And these postures, yet tested and approved by the Mâalems, are not considered ideal according to the WHO. At our level and with a deep desire for dialogue, while respecting tradition, we have succeeded in certain production stages in developing seated workstations, ensuring what we consider to be a better posture.

Our vision is that of an open and united world in which the responsible economy is combined with social and environmental progress.
We are always thinking about improving ourselves by creating a virtuous circle with our various partners.