Topic outline

  • General


    Tuesdays and Fridays 1:00 to 3:20

    This course is designed to give students a hands-on practitioner’s introduction to the design, style and history of Islamic architectural tile in the Seljuk (11-14th centuries) and early Ottoman periods (particularly the 15th and 16th century) in Turkey.  A broad introduction of Islamic architecture will introduce aspects that will support extensive investigation of the Ottoman period and particularly the buildings of Sinan.  The course will examine the evolution of the tile decoration within these increasing complex architectural forms.  Hands on creation in the studio will strengthen our historical survey of tiles and their architectural settings in Turkey in the thirteenth through the sixteenth century. 

    Armed with the knowledge of the development of Islamic tile and ornament, students will design their own site-specific tile installations bearing in mind specific spatial and iconographical parameters relating to practices of the Ottoman Empire.

    Tiles of this period are precise in their geometry and overwhelming in their decoration.  Students will be able to explore both the graphic nature of pattern repetition and the development of their own personal iconography based on their increased understanding of their design’s graphic application.

    The best way to gain insight into architecture is to partake in its sensory experience directly. The course work will be augmented by a two-week trip to Iznik, Bursa (the first capital of the Ottomans) and Istanbul in Turkey to study specific buildings and their tile decoration in situ as well as visit with makers, restorers and historians.  Travel will introduce students to the complex art form of Islamic architecture.  This region presents students with the crossroads of east and west, Christianity and Islam.  While not dealt directly through the course, this intersection offers many possible inspirations for further study. 


  • In Class This Week


    Week Twelve - April 22

    Day 1. TUESDAY APRIL 23

    Unload kiln, work on projects

    Day 2. APRIL 26

    Work in Studio

    PLEASE NOTE: Final Papers due

  • Assignments

    This is a six credit class so in addition to weekly reading and studio work all students will be completing both a studio assignment: a complete tile program for a space on campus and a research paper on the stylistic sources of your project which must be based on either Seljuk or Ottoman tile patterns. The way in which your work is based stylistically is entirely up to you.


  • Useful information

    Students are required to complete all reading assignments for the class in which they will be discussed. On this page we will share additional reading materials, websites and other information. As you come across things, please share them with us so we can post them here.

  • Travel in Turkey

    Over Spring break we will travel to Turkey to work in Iznik and get a chance to examine first hand early and classical (Iznik) Ottoman tile work in Bursa and Istanbul. This is a fantastic opportunity but it will require patience and a great deal of stamina. The weather in Turkey in March is often overcast and rainy and can be cold. While a great many Turks speak English, particularly outside Istanbul, many do not. You'll need to think through what to bring, what to wear and how to prepare physically and mentally for this journey to make sure you get the most out of it. Below in addition to the Itinerary of the trip are some resources to help you with this.

  • Pre-Class Fora

    This is where I am going to archive all the responses to fora that we do before class. Please look back at them periodically to make sure we are answering all your questions.