Images courtesy Fireclay Tile
By Cara Gibbs
Hand-mixed, lead-free glazes aren’t the only thing baked into each handmade Fireclay Tile creation—this Northern California-established tile studio and certified Benefit Corporation, perhaps most importantly, imbues thoughtful, sustainable design practices into each and every product they make. Operating under the mantra, We Set Out To Do Tile Differently, Fireclay Founder and Chief Ceramicist Paul Burns imprinted this ethos into the culture of the brand from the very beginning. The result is a revolutionary tile firm that continues to redefine the industry standard and break glass ceilings with every sustainable feat achieved. Its certified B Corp standing means they’re committed to social and environmental betterment and adhere to a Made for Good philosophy in everything they do, from their mindful manufacturing processes to supporting causes they believe in through Fireclay Gives. Their most recent focus includes the Desiree Cooper Memorial Scholarship Fund in partnership with the Architects Foundation, a diversity advancement scholarship to support Black women earning their degree in architecture. Here, discover four defining pillars of this trailblazing company and find out why they made the perfect tile partner for #EcoRenovate, Elemental Green’s sustainable renovation project at University Park Condominium in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.
“Color has always been a passion of mine,” explains Burns, and Fireclay certainly hosts a sweeping spectrum when it comes to colorways. Discover a kaleidoscope of over 130 hand-mixed hues that fill the Fireclay color library. Suitable for both residential and commercial projects, each tile is applied with a lead-free, VOC-free glaze that fires at a near 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. These ultra-high heats ensure a durable and easy-to-clean surface conveyed in any saturated color of your choice. Can’t decide? Place your request for free samples to help narrow things down. You can also use Fireclay’s custom color tool to personalize your choice, or take advantage of Fireclay’s free design services where one of Fireclay’s trusted design pros can help educate and guide you toward the right material for your next project. Not quite sure how to choose your favorite hue? Designers and tastemakers like Shavonda Gardner, Sarah Sherman Samuel, Carmeon Hamilton, and Claire Thomas have curated theirs for you.
Designer Shavonda Gardner chose her Fireclay palette to reflect her own home’s Moody Eclectic-Meets-English Maximalist aesthetic: Vintage Leather, Antique, Mustard Seed, Painted Sky, Cardamom, Evergreen, Blue Velvet, and Basalt. We’re definitely loving this mood! Portrait: Gary Ashley of Create + Gather
Sarah Sherman Samuel
Designer Sarah Sherman Samuel is known for her effortless style and unexpected moments of drama. Sarah curated her Fireclay Tile palette using soft shades of white, pink and green with a bit of charcoal to ground the assortment: Calcite, Dawn, Mesa, Halite, Sand Dune, Tusk, Rosemary, and Akoya. Her interiors and color sensibilities elicit a warm modern vibe, and her Fireclay Tile palette is no different. Portrait: Stoffer Photography
Designer Carmeon Hamilton, of Nubi Interiors, looked to her home, wardrobe and worldly inspirations when curating her Fireclay Tile palette: Shetland Wool, Calcite, Mustard Seed, Red Rock, Halite, Raven, Tumbleweed, and Hunter Green. The hues are as intentional and storied as her interiors. Portrait: Camille Leigh
Claire Thomas, of The Kitchy Kitchen fame (oh, and food stylist, personal chef, author, TV-show host, and podcaster extraordinaire), joined with Fireclay Tile to curate her favorite palette of hues that she chose for their richness, depth, and vintage feel: Antique, City Lights, Taxi, Koi, Tusk, Sea Glass, Rosemary, and Evergreen. From Marrakech to the era of the classic Eames chair to the Hollywood Golden Age, Claire shows us she’s not afraid to use color or pattern to transport you.
Fireclay is committed to extraordinary quality control and upholding the brand’s rich ceramic traditions. That’s why the majority of their tiles are made to order. Whether you’re in search of handcrafted glass tiles, handmade ceramics, mosaics, or hand-painted decorative tiles, you can be sure each offering is sustainably made and that almost nothing has gone to waste. Made in the rolling hills of Aromas, California—a stone’s throw from Monterey Bay—green begins in the factory. From reincorporating glaze waste into their clay to water reclamation, to using 100% renewable energy and offsetting its carbon emissions, to using recycled granite fines in their tile bodies, and qualifying for several green certifications, Fireclay’s commitment to sustainability remains at the forefront of the brand’s philosophies. Plus, all orders are packaged for shipment using 100% recycled boxes, re-used shipping crates, and sawdust from a local furniture manufacturer.
Ready to Rock
We all love handmade pieces, but sometimes we need product quickly and can’t wait the typically lengthy lead times. Check that worry off your list, because Fireclay offers Quick Ship for those projects on the fly. Available in their best-selling recycled ceramic tile and the crowd-pleaser Brick pattern, each quick ship tile arrives in 5 days or less after leaving the factory floor. Sustainable tile just got a lot quicker! And, more affordable: Fireclay offers five shapes in eight colors at reduced prices through their Foundations line, featuring some of their most popular combinations.
Made to Matter
“Paul has always really championed using recycled materials,” states Fireclay CEO Eric Edelson who, along with Burns and the rest of the team, continues to push the boundaries of sustainable practices in an effort to create creative spaces that do good and give back. In fact, this is a company that has a long track record of contributing to design spaces that make the world a better place. Case in point: When buying Brick—one of Fireclay’s oldest and most beloved materials—you’ll be doing some serious good thanks to Fireclay Tile’s commitment to protecting and honoring the planet by donating 1% of all Brick sales to the National Parks Conservation Association. It’s one example of the many nonprofit organizations Fireclay has given back to over the years.
Fireclay Tile and #EcoRenovate Pay Tribute To Chicago’s Music Scene
Because of Fireclay’s commitment to sustainability and its 360-degree approach including social impact, the brand was chosen to outfit Elemental Green’s first branded sustainable renovation project, #EcoRenovate. A variety of Fireclay Tile patterns can be seen throughout: on the backsplash and floor of the kitchen, as well as in the main bathroom and guest bathroom. The project takes the notable 1960s University Park Condominium building in Chicago designed by I.M. Pei and Araldo Cossutta and gives it a sustainable and current yet historically mindful twist.
As a nod to the rich musical tapestry of Chicago, the most graphic choice of the Fireclay tiles in this project clads the kitchen backsplash—adding a punch of color to the surrounding Plyboo bamboo cabinets from French Cabinetry. Though meant to represent an aerial view of midwestern circular crops, when the patterns of Fireclay’s handpainted Maze in Warm Motif are arranged just so, they mimic the revolution of a vinyl record. A deep blue washes over the kitchen floor through non-slip Wharf-hued Hexite tiles, which, when pieced together, form a contemporary take on a hexagon. The shapes pay tribute to the condo’s modernist beginnings but also give the kitchen a modern-day edge.
Taking color cues from Lake Michigan, the guest bathroom evokes the swells of a summer day with Wave tiles in Lake Tahoe climbing the shower walls. The walls of the bathroom are adorned in handmade 6-by-6-inch tiles in Tusk, which are available through the reduced-price Foundations collection. In the master bath, 3-by-6-inch Kingfisher glass tiles are installed vertically in the shower as a nod to the original layout of tile when the building was new, and is grounded with a baseboard and floor comprising the deeper Magpie 3-by-6-inch tile and 1-by-1-inch mosaic to conjure a winter view of “lake and sky.”
Fireclay’s collection of glass tiles uses painter John James Audubon’s Great Blue Heron as its color muse.
A selection of decorative motifs includes a Moroccan line with lace fretwork.
Choose from eight colors and five standard sizes for reduced pricing without sacrificing the handmade quality.
Fireclay Tile hand-mixes its clay bodies, glazes and ceramic inks.