Viúva Lamego

Viúva Lamego has been creating unique pieces since 1849, using traditional methods that embellish the world. Viúva Lamego, whose manufacturing facilities were originally located in the building where today is the shop open to the public, in Largo do Intendente, in Lisbon, initially produced utilitarian products (such as jars, etc) in red clay, and faience and tiles in white clay.

In the early 20th century, tiles were gaining importance and the production in red clay was ending. In the 30’s, Viúva Lamego began to work closely with renowned artists, who increasingly began to, at Viúva Lamego’s facilities, use the tile to express their creations.

The masters of Viúva Lamego continue to manufacture a wide range of tiles, always hand-painted, with particular emphasis on the execution of works conceived by artists, whilst developing new products, which perpetuate the integration of tiles in presente Architecture.

From Tradition to Modernity

The knowledge and art of the masters of Viúva Lamego turn each tile into an unique creation, perfectly imperfect, that resists the trends making it timeless.
The manufacturing process of its products involves techniques, raw materials and additives with distinctive characteristics, which are the result of the knowledge and experience accumulated in the course of its already long history, in conjunction with a constant concern for the integration of innovative techniques that lead to its optimization and rationalization.
The production of Viúva Lamego is versatile adapting to the manifold required by contemporary artists and architects. Hence, their typology of products covers a wide range of sizes, shapes, colours and finishes with a very specific identity.
Viúva Lamego has the ability to, in cooperation with the architect or artist, study and develop the best solution for each product, developing colours and creating new shapes.

“Hispano-Árabe” tile (“Móçarabes”) – pattern tiles with designs that recur in geometric radial schemes, decorated with enamels. Reproductions of originals from the 15th and 16th centuries.

“Arestas” tiles – Tiles in ballast. In their still wet surface, moulds with grooves forming designs are applied, leaving edges that compartmentalize the area to be filled with enamel.

“Relevo” tiles – the semi-artisan production by extrusion of the ballast makes possible the manufacture of non-plan pieces, exploring certain effects (eg. kinetic), which are impossible in plan tiles.

Sub-title: Colour study for a project of Public Art.

Throughout the manufacturing process each tile is taken care by the artisans. The raw material and the enamels used add depth to the colour, making each tile unique, beautiful and versatile. There are not two equal pieces. These are the features that make it so unique.

The collection Plain Colours is being complemented through the times and reflects the combination between materials and technique, reinforcing the wish to find new solutions that expand the available colour range. The glaze on these ballast tiles gives an idea of depth, highlighting the irregularities of the piece.

History of Tiles

The traditional Portuguese Tile, in which Viúva Lamego plays a predominant role, depicts various references in terms of taste, technics and motifs, announcing an ongoing dialogue between the past and the future.

In Portugal, the tile is used as an expression of originality and assumes a role of usage that is complex and extended in time. The Portuguese tile, throughout these five centuries of usage, has incorporated multiple economic, social, and cultural influences that characterize it beyond a mere decorative proposal.

By the end of the 16th century the “Hispano-Árabe” (“Moçárabes”) tile was imported to the Iberian Peninsula. They are patterned tiles with motifs that intertwine and repeat themselves in geometrical radial schemes, already applied with an architectural sense. Technically, these are tiles in biscuit, with reliefs that delimit the designs, where the enamels, after being applied, will then fill those drawings, colouring them.

In the late 16th century begins in Portugal the production of the tile using the “Majolica” technique. This technique consists in covering the tile with a white glaze, where designs can be painted without mixing the colours.

In 1668, with the end of the War of Restoration, one witnesses a resumption of political and trade relations with Spain, France and the Netherlands. With the economic and financial recovery, palaces are built or renovated in an artistic form. The 17th century tiles are characterized by the use of a specific design in one piece, which connects to the others, forming a larger design, or a new design with a set of repeated motifs, usually simple designs. In the first half of the century, the predominant colours are blue and yellow in a white background. In the middle of the 17th century the dominant colours became the manganese and the green, displaying more singular patterns. At the end of the century, the dominant colour was the blue. Tapestry motifs prevail.

The Panels and Murals transpose onto the tiles scenes from the engravings of the time, taking into account the environment to which they are intended.

In the first half of the 18th century we witness a sumptuousness, extraversion and theatricality by the court of King John V. The use of the blue colour, initiated by the end of the 17th century, remains. The patterns are characterized by single figures.

Between 1755 and 1780 (18th century – “Pombalino”) in the post-earthquake period, with an economic crisis in Portugal, there is a need for the reconstruction of Lisbon. The use of tiles undergoes a great dynamization, presenting new patterns, some in polychrome. Records of saints, who protected the buildings against natural phenomena, are also a constant in this period.

At the end of the 18th century – D. Maria, the tiles are marked by the serenity and freshness of the designs of linear and graphic treatment, often featuring free combinations of branches, wreaths, ribbons and laces.

For each pattern it has been tradition the use of a listello and / or corner that is based on some part of the pattern, generally simplifying it and completing it with stripes of colour. Also used as complement of the pattern tiles are the denominated “Pintas” tiles or the Completing tiles.
The Portuguese Traditional Tile collection of Viúva Lamego is also complemented by various designs presented as Contemporary.

Works with Pritzker Prizes

The Pritzker Architecture Prize was established in 1979 by the initiative of the Hyatt Foundation and aims to distinguish annually a living architect or architects whose built work demonstrates talent, vision and commitment that is considered as a significant contribution to the art of architecture.

The Pritzker Architecture Prize is a highly relevant prize internationally, also known as the “Nobel Prize of Architecture”.

Viúva Lamego is proud to have in its portfolio works executed in collaboration with three of the winners of this distinction: the Portuguese architects Álvaro Siza Vieira (Pritzker Prize in 1992) and Eduardo Souto Moura (Pritzker Prize in 2011) and the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas (Pritzker Prize in 2000).

Get to know some of the authors’ and public art works developed by Viúva Lamego, by each of these Pritzker Prize winners.

Architect Álvaro Siza Vieira:

  • Baixa-Chiado Metro Station (Lisbon), in 1997
  • Pavilion of Portugal, on Expo 98 (Lisbon), in 1998
  • Pavilion of Portugal in Hannover (Germany), in 2000
  • S. Bento (Porto) Metro Station, in 2005
  • Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fátima (Fátima), in 2007

Architect Eduardo Souto de Moura:

  • Pavilion of Portugal in Hannover (Germany), in 2000

Architect Rem Koolhaas:

  • Casa da Música (Porto), in 2004


Viúva Lamego continues to manufacture handmade tiles with the same procedures used in past centuries, which allows Viúva Lamego tiles to have  specific characteristics such as the uneven surface, a contour that is not totally almost regular and relatively inaccurate dimensions, which continue to allow our tiles to have the same character throughout times.  The high specialization of Viúva Lamego in hand-painting ensures a unique quality of execution, both in the reproduction of traditional Portuguese tiles and implementation of projects in Architecture and also in the execution of artists’ works.


Forms and Dimensions



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