About Us

A brief visit to Santa Catalina in 1974 sparked Michael King’s life-long interest in the colorful tiles once made on the island that lies off California’s coast. During the following year, Michael sought out and photographed historical tile installations around Southern California. He learned that Catalina Tile was one of several California companies that had made beautiful ceramic tiles characterized by black-outlines and festive colors during the 1920s and 1930s.

The companies -- among them, Calco, Malibu and Taylor as well as Catalina -- had long disappeared. But to his surprise, Michael discovered that there were no contemporary tile makers producing tiles of that style. Sensing an opportunity, Michael decided to recapture what he considered to be a lost art form. Balancing his final year of graduate school and a job as a ceramics instructor at a community college, in 1976 he established a small studio in San Clemente, California, that he called Michael King Designs.

Today, more than three decades later, Michael King Designs counts Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mel Gibson, George Lucas, Steve Wynn and Rupert Murdoch among its clients. The tiles from Michael King Designs have been featured in Architectural Digest, San Diego Home and Garden and Veranda magazines, and on the cover of the book, “Casa Romantica.“

The craftsmen of Michael King Designs continue to draw inspiration for their custom tiles and tile murals from the master tile makers of the early 20th century. The company has hundreds of designs in its inventory as well as the ability to create original designs in a variety of styles. Utilizing the unique and rich cuerda seca glazing technique, Michael King Designs artisans painstakingly decorate each tile by hand. All of the company’s products are suitable for indoor and outdoor installation.

Michael King Designs strives to meet all design, color and scheduling needs and welcomes all projects, both large and small. Michael King Designs offers its clients -- whether they be homeowners, design professionals or builders -- the unique opportunity to work directly with its founder who was instrumental in the establishment of the current craftsman tile movement.

Standing outside a home featuring Michael King Designs tiles, the late and great designer, Steve Chase once told Michael King, “This house is a beautiful lady, and your tiles are her jewelry.”