There is a place in London where I could really see the essence of the city – in fact, I could even walk on it. In the hall of a landmark 1911 building on Fulham Road, you find the giant mosaic of Bibendum, the famous Michelin man made of white tyres. A technique older than the Roman empire applied to the business of cars, the epitome of the modern age. This weird mixture of hoary tradition with the latest novelties stayed with me during my walk in London. But Bibendum is only one facet of a city in love with mosaics. Its most famous is the 1268 Cosmati pavement at Westminster Abbey: an intricate jewel measuring 24 feet by 10 inches square, formed by inlaid stones of coloured geometrical patterns: triangles, squares, circles, rectangles. All chosen for their brilliance, featuring onyx, purple porphyry, green serpentine, yellow limestone and opaque coloured glass. When the architect Gilbert Scott restored it in the late 19th century, he triggered a Victorian Cosmatesque revival that transformed the city into a kaleidoscope of mosaics.