Our Story

Mazingira Tiles team in the tile factory with African patterned tiles

Who is Mazingira Tiles?

Leading producers of concrete products, SmartStone, have launched an exciting new product range that is setting a benchmark in personalised design. Skilled craftsmen manufacture Mazingira Tiles locally, and each design has a unique African flavour. But those aren’t the only things that make them so special.

The Mazingira difference is that discerning customers can now customise their designs or choose their own colour scheme, creating a truly personalised statement in their homes or commercial properties.

The word “Mazingira” means “ambiance” in Swahili. And as the name suggests, these decorative concrete tiles create a purely individualistic ambiance in any location. Mazingira Tiles is currently the only company in South Africa that offers customised concrete tiles in a choice of bespoke colours and designs.

All tiles are locally manufactured in Midrand and inspired by the spirit of Ubuntu — the concept that “I am because you are,” when a group of people share the same values, are united and feel connected. Ubuntu is central to what it means to be African. And Mazingira’s designs are distinctly infused with the spirit of Africa. For inspired property owners looking to redesign their spaces at work or home, the floors and walls become a blank canvas and an outlet for individual creativity.

Where it all started

SmartStone has been producing concrete products since 1980. And to stay up to date with international trends, manufacturing technology and developments, the owners of SmartStone, David Wertheim Aymes and James Metcalf, often visit Europe for a touch of inspiration.

One of these trips proved to be unexpectedly fateful when James caught site of Encaustic cement tiles. Encaustic tiles are entirely handmade, using a method developed in the 19th century.

The realisation that as big as the tile industry was, something was still missing. There were no South African patterned tiles in the market. We aimed to fix this and that is how Mazingira Tiles was born. Tiles have always been a creative way for us to decorate our homes. James and David immediately saw the possibilities of using this production technique to create colourful African designs here in South Africa. But first, they had to investigate and understand the specialised manufacturing methods used in the production of the tiles. Equipped with the knowledge they needed, SmartStone purchased the necessary equipment and trained its own artisans, commissioning the first Mazingira design: a patterned motif inspired by the strong geometric design lines featured in traditional Ndebele culture.

Craftsman busy making African inspired encaustic tiles
3D Geometric cement tile installed as a feature on the floors and walls

The sky is the limit

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou, author, poet, civil rights activist.

The next design, with further inspiration from the colourful squares and triangles in Ndebele art, signalled the beginning of an entirely new approach to tile design and manufacturing. The Mazingira philosophy is that tiles should not just be bought off the shelf. They should be made with passion and care.

Everyone has their own sensibilities and vision about the perfect look for their space. Mazingira brings individuality to life by allowing anyone to tap into the design they see in their mind’s eye.

Tiles with patterns are often used for decorative purposes. When wanting to create a distinct look, feature walls and floor areas are tiled with patterned tiles.

The question is, what are the differences between all the options on the market and why should I opt for a specific tile.