A hydraulic mosaic is a decorative pigmented cement tile, for interior and exterior use. Invented in Spain in the mid-19th century, it was used as flooring in buildings until the 1960s.
The manufacturing process is characterized by the use of metal molds ("climbing") for the application of colors, which are later fixed to the cement base using a hydraulic press.
The first references date back to 1857, although its consolidation as an alternative product to natural stone (mainly marble) was at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1867, where the Barcelona company Garret, Rivet y Cía. he presented it as a type of tile that did not require firing but was consolidated by means of presses. The measurements of the tiles were basically 10 x 10, 15 x 15, 20 x 20, 25 x 25 and 40 x40 cm, but the most common were 20 x20.
Following the fashion for elegant Minton floors, encaustic flooring became popular as a cheaper way to achieve a similar look. The coincidence of this technique with the development of modernism made the designs more complex and artistic and manufacturers counted on fashion designers among their collaborators, such as Alexandre de Riquer, Domènech i Montaner, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Josep Pascó and Enric Sagnier. Antoni Gaudí designed a single pavement, for Casa Batlló, which was ultimately not placed in this house but in Casa Milà and which now paves the sidewalks of Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona.
The drawings represented geometric, floral or vegetal forms. The simplest designs had a pattern that was repeated and combined piece by piece. Generally, the decorators composed the designs simulating a carpet that occupied the entire room and that required tiles that formed a perimeter border. It was also common for the composition of the final image to be obtained with the combination of 2, 4 or 6 different pieces, which considerably complicated production and installation.
* Technique: digital with pencil