Zehrunisa, a dweller of the Annawadi slum in Mumbai and protagonist of the book “Behind The Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo, glimpses an advert for Italian floor tiles with the slogan “Beautiful Forever” on a peeling wall near Mumbai airport. Zehrunisa, we read in the book, “wanted a more hygienic home here in the name of her children’s vitality… On the floor she wanted ceramic tiles like the ones advertised on the Beautiful Forever wall – tiles that could be scrubbed clean, instead of broken concrete that harbored filth in each striation”. This goes to show that even in the dreams of a woman living in an Indian slum, ceramic tiles are perceived as the most hygienic material for guaranteeing children’s health.
Ceramic is an age-old yet utterly modern material that for centuries has stood as a guarantee of hygiene. It has been used by mankind since antiquity for eating, for mixing water and wine, and as a water receptacle for washing and personal hygiene.
Thanks to today’s advances in technological innovation and materials engineering, ceramic has undergone further improvements in its chemical, physical and mechanical characteristics.
Although we tend to take the hygienic qualities of ceramic for granted, its easily-washable surfaces are an important part of our everyday lives, guaranteeing cleanliness and hygiene at all times.