“Kashmir” for Pomona Tile

Alexa Griffith Winton

In 1957, the Pomona Tile Company announced a new line called the Distinguished Designer Series. It featured patterned tiles from five noted mid-century creatives: Dorothy Liebes, designer Saul Bass (best known for his work on motion picture credits), industrial designer Paul László, furniture designer Paul McCobb, and artist Millard Sheets. Each tile was six by six inches and designed to withstand both domestic and commercial applications. [1] 

The promotional brochure announcing the project stated, “Working under special assignment from Pomona Tile Manufacturing Company, five distinguished contemporary designers—Liebes, McCobb, Bass, László, and Sheets—have opened the way for scores of beautiful new uses and applications of decorative tiles for both residential and commercial construction.”  

Liebes’s multicolor Kashmir design came in three colorways: a vibrant jewel-toned palette, a blue-green similar to the palette of her Persian Room and SS United States textiles, and a warmer palette of oranges, browns, and ochres. Each tile had stripes of different colors with a black screen on top meant to simulate the nubby textures of Liebes fabrics.  

Like the earlier Liebes Weaves line for United Wallpaper, these tiles are among a broad range of consumer products Liebes designed. Offered at low prices, they made owning a bit of Liebes a possibility for Americans with more modest household budgets. The design nods toward the core tenets of Liebes’s design philosophy—design, color, and texture—while providing a smooth, durable, and cleanable surface that required none of the maintenance of Liebes textiles. 


[1] Dorothy Liebes Studio Scrapbook, 1958. Series 8, Box 32, Folder 2, Dorothy Liebes Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. 

Four glazed stoneware tiles in three separate colorways; black overglaze designs on each tile imitate textures found in Liebes fabrics.

Fig. 1 Four tiles in three colorways from Kashmir, Dorothy Liebes’s design for Pomona’s Distinguished Designer Series, 1957; Private collection; Photo by Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

Alexa Griffith Winton

Alexa Griffith Winton is a design historian and educator. She is currently Manager, Content + Curriculum at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. She has researched and published on the work of Dorothy Liebes for over ten years. Griffith’s work has been published in scholarly and popular publications, including the Journal of Design History, Dwell, Journal of the Archives of American Art, and the Journal of Modern Craft.  She co-edited A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes (Cooper Hewitt and Yale University Press, 2023) with Susan Brown. She has received research grants from the Graham Foundation, the New York State Council for the Arts, Center for Craft, Creativity and Research, Nordic Culture Point, and the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation.