On the upper floors of 74 Thomas Street, there are panels of mosaic tiles in a geometric pattern. It’s a muted sort of plaid effect, brown diagonals cutting through pale blue, sand, and cream. Like the patterned tiles on Cork Street, it’s definitely seen better days and it seems a bit lost on the facade.

This stretch of Thomas Street is quite a mixed bag anyway, so it’s not merely a question of it not fitting in – the parapet heights of the buildings are all over the place, and even when the ground floor shopfronts are similar, they’re being mushed into very different contexts overhead. It’s an unfortunate situation: I think the tiles are beautiful, especially as a colour palette, but in their present setting they look drab and scrappy.

The tiles date from at least pre-1977, as they appear in a property ad then, extending down to the signboard (described by the property listing as “prestige city-centre headquarters” for Cripps Footwear), with the white vertical frame continuing to ground level. I’m not a fan of reproducing other people’s copyrighted material here, so here’s a quick wonky drawing of the 1977 elevation:

It’s quite a lovely composition, isn’t it? The patterned tiles appear in the two white-bordered panels below the windows, and again (unbordered) on ground floor, below the display windows. Obviously, the current pastichey moulding lopping off the tiles is awful and makes them look like a patch of old wallpaper hidden behind a radiator, but it was a surprise to see just how nice they were in their original setting.

View Larger Map