Such Stories is reinventing the humble white tile

This duo are livening up walls by applying charming narrative illustrations to simple white tiles

‘London Bus’ six-tile mural, £180, Such Stories
‘London Bus’ six-tile mural, £180, Such Stories

Tile murals have a long history, from the mosaics of ancient Roman villas to colourful tin-glazed Portuguese azulejos. In the hands of Laura Carlin and Jo Briggs – aka Such Stories – they take on a more whimsical feel, with jungle animals and cartoonesque line drawings parading across murals.

Carlin, an illustrator and ceramicist, and Briggs, a graphic designer, met on an art foundation course 21 years ago – and though they only set up their studio last year, they've been collaborating for over a decade. Their creations have caught the eye of interior designer Pierre Yovanovitch, who asked them to cover the dining-room walls and table of his guesthouse in Portugal with their tiles; and The New Craftsmen, with whom they worked on an installation at the Bankside Hotel’s Art Yard Bar & Kitchen.

‘Valentines’ six-tile mural, £180, Such Stories
‘Valentines’ six-tile mural, £180, Such Stories
Such Stories

They take on residential commissions, too, their drawings transforming tiled shower walls, fireplaces and tabletops. Their work can be on any scale, from entire rooms to groups of tiles you can hang like art – one client commissioned 35 tiles, now dotted around his bathroom amidst plain white ones.

‘Kitten & Chair’ tile, £25, Such Stories
‘Kitten & Chair’, £25, Such Stories
Photography Daisy Bendall

Although the duo’s main focus is on ceramic tiles – the 10cm size allows them ‘the most flexibility to tell stories’ – they work in other media, too, including screen prints and fabrics. Carlin draws and Briggs pieces the designs together on a computer. ‘What we like about tiles is that you don’t have to be too precious about them,’ says Briggs. ‘They feel as if they belong in a room.’

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration October 2019

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