On my daily walks to work, I loved looking at the various tiles that adorned the shop fronts often hand painted and heavily influenced by Islamic geometric prints. On my return to Devon, inspired by what I’d seen I hunted out local tile manufacturers and landed my first design job!
Eight years later, I joined Original Style as a designer (I fell in love with their Winchester range). I have worked at Original Style for six years now I love being a part of an industry that is challenging, exciting, trend-led and UK based.
I’m lucky that my role is quite diverse and includes putting together product ranges for UK house-builders as well as designing and developing ranges for the majority of our product portfolios.
Q. Where do you find inspiration for tile designs? A. The ceramic industry is much more trend-led than it was when I started my career over 10 years ago. Trips to national and international shows and exhibitions are one of the ways that I keep ahead of the trends to ensure what is developed and ultimately launched is the right product at the right time. Many of the interior trends that influence what consumers buy originate on the catwalk and are gently filtered down to other industries including wallpaper, textiles and ceramics. How I then interpret these trends completely depends on the product range and target audience.
For example the ‘tropical’ trend that has been so very popular for a number of years inspired our range called Eden - a gorgeous selection of botanical inspired large format tiles. This range was developed and then launched at exactly the right time and continues to be our best-selling collection within our Living Brochure. We also visit national trust properties, museums, design shows as well as taking lots of pictures whilst we are on holiday! A designer’s eye is always open for inspiration.
Q. How long does it take to develop a new tile collection? From conception to manufacturing, to reach the market? A. This can depend on how that product is being made. For example a design that is going to be screen printed requires quite a lot of set up work with a team of people, Digitally printed product can be quicker depending on the level of complexity of the design. With all projects we also have the rule that things don’t always go to plan with ceramics! Working with a natural based product and beautiful handmade glazes all add to the possibility of not always getting what you anticipate!
Q. If you had to pick a favourite tile design what would it be? A. That’s hard as we have so many gorgeous products! But, I love the Nano range in our Living collection - its super simple, easy to live with but gives a real urban design edge to any room. I also love our Artisan range - simplistic, beautiful colours, creating a timeless heritage - these tiles will stand any test of time.
Q. Which tile range did you enjoy designing the most? A. The Living range was a joy to design as it was one of the first ranges we developed on our new state of the art digital printer and it’s been a huge success for us. It was great to experiment with a new way of producing tiles and we had lots of fun photographing the new designs in our on-site photographic studio. It’s amazing that I’m able to be part of the whole lifecycle of a products’ development, including seeing the tiles in customer project photos shared on Social Media
Q. How does it make you feel when you see pictures of the tiles you've designed in people’s homes? A. It brings me so much joy! I also love to see how people use our tiles, how they are styled and how much pleasure they bring the end user.
Q. What challenges do you face when bringing a tile design to life? A. One of the main challenges is making it exciting as well as possible to create in our factory. Our Exeter based production site is unique with a combination of state of the art technology and beautiful antiquated machines that are very loved. It’s important as a designer to be aware of the boundaries our machinery might have as well as trying to achieve something different. We have a wonderful team that are incredibly passionate about what they do and have a brilliant amount of technical knowledge.
Q. What advice would you give to those looking to create fabulous tiled focal points in their home? A. To be bold! As I mentioned earlier ceramic tiles are much more trend-led now and there’s plenty of choice. I think it’s always best to have that focal point in a place that is quite visible. Think behind the bath, behind the cooker, make a feature of that walk-in shower. Tiles can add texture, colour and ultimately create atmosphere within a room
Q. What’s the best thing about being a designer and working at Original Style? A. The ability to design products that are exciting, trend-led and to work in UK manufacturing - something I’m proud of every day.
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