Tiles of the Ocean


Chermayeff & Geismar

Practice Area


Parque EXPO 98

Project Vision

The Tiles of the Oceans is a monolithic wall of 54,000 classic blue and white tiles hand made in Portugal. The mural, six stories high and 240-feet-long, weaves through the interior and exterior of the Lisbon Aquarium, inviting people inside to cue up for the main exhibit. The images were first scanned on the computer and then pixilated. They are created from 64 geometric tile designs, each a percentage value of dark to light in 10 degree increments. Thirty different creatures from each of the world’s oceans were selected to co-habitate this one space. The quilt pattern was chosen as a symbol of the traditional crafts of world cultures. At close rage, the viewer focuses on a microcosm of the ocean’s inhabitants, then when viewed at a distance, the big picture comes into focus.

Project Details
The size and quality of these murals is very impressive. The several layers of meaning from microcosm to giant creatures is fresh and the shimmering quality of the creatures from a distance is marvelous. The jury all agreed that this huge series of wall murals displays a brilliant richness in both concept and execution. One can appreciate the design on many levels: use of unique locale handmade materials; way the shimmery, not-in-focus quality evokes a sensation of seeing the images through water; visually intriguing view from a long distance as well as close up; and the enhancement of the majestic nature of the subject matter through simplicity and scale.
Juror 1
Design Team

Ivan Chermayeff (Principal in Charge), Chris Rover (Production Manager), Anthony Ferrara (Senior Designer), Charlotte Noruzi (Junior Designer)

Design Firm

Chermayeff & Geismar

Project Area

six stories tall by 240 feet long


IDEA, Inc./Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc., Engil, S.A.


Ceramica Constance, Catasul, Montagem, Eurostand