It's earthy, tactile and weathers beautifully – no wonder terracotta is one of our favourite trends of 2019.
#21DaysofTrends: Raw Terracotta
Terracotta is an Italian word that literally translates into English as 'baked earth'. Essentially, it refers to a material – clay – that comes from the earth and has for millenia been fashioned by human beings into shapes that can be used for building, storage or even cooking, then low fired or baked. Porcelain and ceramics are 'high fired' at much higher temperatures. The result of the low-firing process is a naturally varied orange-brownish colour, which in turn is what most retailers and consumers think of as 'terracotta'.
This year, both the colour based on this age-old process of creation, and the items made that way, are trending.
Terracotta Items and Objects
Terracotta can be glazed or unglazed, or sometimes a combination of the two can be beautiful too. A good example of this is the Flake Rim serving bowl by Vorster & Braye, where the outside stays raw, but the inside has been glazed. When bowls are used to serve food, a glazed surface can be useful, although unglazed surfaces also work – and this variety is frequently used in items created for cooking purposes.
Cooking with Terracotta
To be used for cooking, unglazed terracotta must be submerged in water for about 15 minutes prior to adding ingredients. The porous clay absorbs some of the water, which then releases slowly as the pot heats up in the oven or on an open fire. As a result of this, food cooks more slowly and evenly. While a large variety of clay cooking vessels are used around the world, one of the most famous of these is the tagine.
Terracotta Floors and Tiles
If you are lucky enough to have terracotta floors, especially those installed in the 1960s and 1970s, be sure to look after them – and there's definitely no need to replace them with anything else. Not only is the weathered appeal of these tiles trending right now, they will also look good for many years to come. To keep the space current, add contemporary furniture in contrasting colours to the floor. Complementary shades of white and blue work really well with terracotta, as seen in this indoor/outdoor nook in a beautiful heritage home on Joburg's Parktown Ridge.
Planting in Terracotta
Unglazed terracotta is a hugely popular material for planters, both outdoors and inside. Clay vessels weather naturally as they hold moisture, and look their best in artfully arranged groups. For a casual look, choose pots that range in size but are a similar shape, or line up a soldierly array of identical large planters for a more dramatic statement.