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1940, with more than 40 companies manufacturing art or commercial tiles within the state. After only a few decades, the once flourishing California tile industry was brought to an end by the Great Depression, the rise of Modernist design, and the widespread preference for utilitarian, white- bodied wall tiles following World War II.


Tiles shaped much of Southern California’s architecture and design through the early part of the 20th

century. California China Products

Company (CCPCo), founded by Walter Nordhoff and his son Charles (later the co-author of Mutiny on the Bounty) played a pivotal role in the use of decorative tiles in California architecture. Along with partner and mineralogist John H. McKnight, the Nordhoffs formed their company after a study of geological conditions in San Diego County convinced them that conditions were favorable for the manufacturing of fine porcelain and china wares. While their original idea was to create porcelain products, it was their brilliant polychromatic Hispano- Moresque-style faience tile that brought them fame.

The introduction of faience tile by CCPCo coincided with the emergence of the Spanish Colonial Revival movement. Despite the company’s brief six-year lifespan (1911-1917), it made its mark on tile heritage through an important contribution to the revolution of Southern California’s architectural landscape. Based in National City, CCPCo was one of the most innovative tile manufacturers in California at that time. Its high gloss glazed tiles, with rich deep colors matched only by their durability and usefulness as an outdoor material, were well received by the commercial market and set the standard for succeeding generations of tile makers.

California China Products may be San Diego’s hometown favorite, but most tiles used in private residences came from other companies such as Batchelder, Claycraft, Gladding, McBean, Taylor, D & M, Malibu, and Catalina potteries, among others. Local architects such as Richard Requa, Lillian Rice and Cliff May made great use of them.


alifornia was one of the leading producers of decorative art tiles and architectural terra cotta in the United States between 1910 and

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