Blog/The exciting history of Dutch ceramic tiles
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The exciting history of Dutch ceramic tiles

Did you know? Mosa is the only company that designs, develops and produces tiles in the Netherlands. But that wasn’t always the case. In fact, the Netherlands used to thrive on ceramic tile manufacturing. Back in the 17th and 18th century, the small city of Delft was the world’s leading ceramic tile hub. What happened to all those Dutch tile producing companies? And how did Mosa wind up as the only tile manufacturer left in the Netherlands? A short travel back in time…

The origin of ceramic tiles

The earliest known examples of ceramic tiles are Egyptian and believed to date back from 4,000 BC. However, it was only in the 16th century ceramic tiles slowly started making their way north through Spain. Reserved for important public buildings and the exceptionally wealthy, ceramic tiles were elaborate pieces of art. Do you know what the Alhambra Palace in Granada and the Great Mosque in Cordoba look like? That’s what we’re talking about.

Delft pottery

By the late 1500s ceramic tiles made it all the way to the Netherlands. It was 1584 when the first pottery makers established themselves in the Dutch town of Delft, which turned into a leading ceramics hub practically overnight. By the mid-17th century, some fifty years later, the Delft pottery makers were known far and wide for their excellent craftsmanship. The world had fallen in love with the city of Delft’s trademark blue and white ceramic tiles. The Dutch tile industry flourished. However, the Dutch success attracted British competition. So much competition that, by 1725, the majority of Dutch potters had gone bankrupt.

Ceramic tiles by Mosa

In 1883, while Britain was mass-producing ceramic tiles and British ceramic tile export was expanding rapidly, Dutch industrial developer Louis Regout founded Mosa. Mosa only produced china at first but started to produce ceramic tiles as well in 1888.

War, peace and innovations

On the eve of World War I, Louis Regout smelled trouble ahead and was convinced, contrary to what most people thought, that the war would not be ending any time soon. He ordered his workers to keep up production and stock up on ceramic tiles until there were no more raw materials left. And so they did, until 1917 when raw material supply became impossible. By the time Mosa’s ovens shut down due to a lack of fuel, Mosa’s huge stock prevented sales from suffering.

Decades later, World War II arrived and the Germans confiscated all of Mosa’s materials, supplies, buildings and machines. Moreover, the German occupiers forced a vast majority of Mosa’s workers to leave the Netherlands to work in Germany. Despite decreased manpower and a lack of fuel and raw materials, Mosa’s tile production soon recovered thanks to numerous technical innovations. By 1949, production was running at full speed again and would continue to do so up to this day. 

How does Mosa remain so popular to this day? Three words: innovation, flexibility and sustainability. Learn more about Mosa