Dec. 5, 2013
Kitchen designed by Josh Mogal of eco+historical using our Debris Series in Caribbean Blue, Image: Michael Keeny
San Francisco based Designer, Josh Mogal of eco+historical has been a long time customer and friend of Fireclay Tile. His stunning historical kitchen rennovations often feature our tile, and we are honored to be able to partner with a designer who has focused his career on sustainable design. As an eco-technology enthusiast, Mogal was thrilled to hear about our plan to turn recycled CRT glass in to tile, and happily backed our project along with a handful of his clients. We took a minute to chat with Josh about his career, sustainable design, and of course our CRT tile!
Josh Mogal of eco+historical
First of all, thank you for backing our project, we appreciate the support!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the history of eco+historical? How did you get involved with sustainable design?
Josh - I started eco+historical in 2007 after a 15-year career in high tech product marketing. Originally, I chose to get out of tech to seek some life balance–to spend more time with friends and my dog, to cook, and to start a family. After an enjoyable remodel of my Palo Alto home before moving to San Francisco, seeing "An Inconvenient Truth" put the fire in my belly to pursue a new path, making homes that both support a vibrant family and social life and which go easier on the planet.
How did you get involved with sustainable design?
As I looked at all of the new work happening in Green Building, virtually all of it was focused on a modern/contemporary aesthetic–with plenty of glass, metal and concrete, but little warmth and little connection to the past. Having grown up in the Northeast, I had loved the warm and cozy feeling of a colonial farmhouse or cottage and I recognized that many of those details had become timeless while so much architecture from the 1940's on has lost its luster.
I decided to focus on applying new Eco-technologies and materials to rehabs of historic homes, retaining a feel that speaks to the past while upgrading floor plans and technologies to suit contemporary living, eliminating toxins, and minimizing energy and water use. I also felt that my experience with user interface design and usability could be applied to space planning to make for more effective collaborations with architects.
How are you currently attempting to make a mark on design through the use of sustainable materials?
Josh - The hallmark of eco+historical is that all of its projects since 2009, when the US Green Building Council made it possible to certify rehabs in addition to new construction, have been designed to target the LEED Platinum Certification level. To achieve this, I seek out materials and systems in every area to maximize my use of sustainable and non-toxic products.
California, and San Francisco in particular, has been very aggressive about pushing Green Building requirements into the building code. Sustainability is no longer an option - it's a requirement. Moral obligations to the planet aside, it's not just the new law of the land, it makes more and more sense.
San Francisco kitchen designed by Josh Mogal featuring our Debris Series in "Kelp", Image: Michael Keeny
You have used our product several times in your projects, when did you first get turned on to Fireclay Tile? What do you like about our tile?
Josh - From my very first project in San Francisco's Cole Valley in 2008, I've specified Fireclay Tile's Debris Series field tile for not only its Green qualities, but the lovely selection of colors and the great story behind them and your company. I'm not interested in designing homes that are just a set of specs for success. My homes are meant to be homes, they need to exude warmth and feel secure–like they've been there forever and will be there for you when you need some place to come back to.
When I use tile from Fireclay Tile, those tiles weren't made by some nameless mega-corporation across the world - they're made by real people with a passion for what they do and hands-on involvement in the products they make. I look at those tiles and I see Paul and his team. I see them honoring the history of my Victorians. I see home.
I often make my homes a relatively neutral palette for their eventual owner's art, furniture and decor, but I always like to add the Debris Series tile in the kitchen for a splash of warm color. The crackle glazes also add a sense of "historical" to the tile, making them fit even better with my own company's identity.
100% Recycled CRT Glass Tile from our Kickstarter project
You and a few of your clients have backed our Kickstarter project, What sparked your interest in our CRT campaign?
Josh - Of course I'm a Fireclay Superfan, so you didn't have to try too hard to get me interested, but as usual, Paul combined a compelling story with a gorgeous tile. The warm gray Phosphor color was gorgeous and the opportunity to make a bit of a difference in reducing the waste stream played both to my love of a great story, my love of the environment, and my love of gorgeous tile.
How do you plan to use our CRT Glass tile in your future projects?
Josh - While I haven't designated an exact use for the CRT Glass tile in my next couple of projects, I already regularly use Penny Tile in my showers and field tile in my backsplashes. I can easily envision the new CRT Glass tile in both of those applications.
What impact do you hope to have on the future of the design community?
Josh - I don't know that I have great visions for my own impact on the design community, but I do love having the opportunity to leverage products into my work that are not just sustainable but emotional as well. There are plenty of sustainable tiles and concrete mixes and sealants and plumbing systems. But there are few sustainable products that are deeply infused with an emotional quality like Fireclay's Debris and CRT Glass Tile products are.
Where do you see sustainable design going in the future?
Josh - Ideally, it would be great if we could move towards more homes incorporating the concepts behind standards like Passivhaus from Germany. Going beyond LEED to make homes that barely even need heating or cooling, these standards can start to move us towards Net Zero homes that have little burden on our energy infrastructure. It will take a long time, but if we can move building standards to require the use of sustainable materials and Net Zero Energy from the start, then the impact of future growth on the planet and our communities will be immensely reduced.
Where the future lies is in making the leap from sustainability being the lead quality that companies promote to sustainability being an absolute requirement and a given and the product's design and value moving to the forefront.
Today, Fireclay Tile is among a very small group of companies with emotionally-compelling sustainable products. Keep up the good work.
Thank you for your support Josh!
If you are interested in learning more about our CRT Glass Tile and are in interested in contributing to the project, check out our Kickstarter Campaign!
Nov. 11, 2013
Our Kickstarter Video
We are very excited to announce the launch of our Kickstarter project! Our prouct is the first of its kind and we are very proud of what we have created – 100% post consumer CRT Glass Tile. CRT, also known as Cathode Ray Tube glass, was used to make the glass screens in old televisions and computer monitors. CRT has been an e-waste challenge in the recycling community for years. With the rise of LCD and Plasma this e-waste problem is growing at a rapid rate. CRT accounts for over 860 million pounds of e-waste in the US alone and we figured that was a lot of useful glass that we could make into tile.
This used to be your TV or computer; now it's beautiful tile! Color: Phosphor.
In order to make these special tiles, we need unique molds. The funding from this Kickstarter project will be used to purchase high quality molds that will guarantee consistency in the finished product. Each mold costs roughly $20 and an average size project will use around 360 molds, which is why we need every dime of the $10,000 we're trying to raise via Kickstarter.
From monitor to backsplash. Kickstarter backers will be eligible for a Phosphor backsplash for their next installation.
Phosphor CRT Tile 4x4 coasters. A rewards for some lucky Kickstarter backers...
Help us make CRT tile a success by backing our project and sharing with friends. C’mon, let’s make something cool together!
BIG THANK YOU to our local e-cyclers, ECS Refining, for all of our CRT glass!
Check out our infographic that tracks CRT from rise to decline, from waste to tile!
Fireclay Tile infographic of CRT from monitor to tile
Sep. 13, 2013
San Jose Mercury News: Home & Garden
Bay Area Tile Company Recycles to Create Innovative Designs
By Kathryn Loosli Pritchett
Here's an excerpt from the incredibly complimentary article posted on 9/5/13:
The recipe: Mix clay and water. Then shape, dry and fire.
Making tile sounds as simple as baking a mud pie. But in the hands of a master, the results are original, sought-after works of art.
Paul Burns, founder and chief ceramicist at the Bay Area's Fireclay Tile ever since the company was launched in 1986, started working in this field at age 10. He spent Saturdays and summers learning the skills from his uncle, Ross Chichester, owner of San Jose's Stonelight Tile. By age 15, clients were asking for Paul to help craft their custom orders.
"I've always liked ... turning raw materials into beautiful things," says Burns, who'd spent some time trying to develop and market men's work pants before settling on tile-making as a career, and starting up Fireclay in San Jose with three partners.
"I was working with fabric, rather than clay, at the time, but I realized it was the process (of creating things) that I liked most of all," he says.
Read the full article here.
Apr. 25, 2013
We are honored to be able to help the Reefs of Tomorrow Initiative with their coral reef rehabilitation project. We used our Debris Series Recycled Tile to custom make several unique tile shapes that are being used to study interaction between Parrot fish and coral reefs. The tile is able to serve as a sort of underwater petri dish that scientists are able to monitor over time and easily remove for study.
Here’s a little more about the Reefs Tomorrow Initiative:
“Around the world, the health of coral reefs is threatened by numerous factors including increasing temperatures, overfishing, pollution, and sedimentation. Despite these threats, some reefs show remarkable resiliency and are thriving. The Reefs Tomorrow Initiative is a collaboration among scientists from academic institutions and conservation organizations who are using computer models and field studies to investigate how healthy reefs respond to multiple and simultaneous threats. Working closely with managers and using our improved understanding of how reefs function, we are building new tools that reef stewards can use to evaluate trade-off decisions and restore reef resiliency. Members of the Reefs Tomorrow Initiative include the American Museum of Natural History, the Coral Reef Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Stanford University, University of California Santa Barbara, University of North Carolina Wilmington, and Victoria University of Wellington. Initial funding for the Reefs Tomorrow Initiative has been provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.”
The holes are drilled to allow scientists to easily attach and remove the tile
Some tiles have been scraped to encourage coral growth.
Dec. 12, 2012
Recently in the Aromas factory, Fireclay Tile installed a new wastewater reclamation system for our automatic glazing machine. This machine produces wastewater that has over sprayed glaze in it. Our new system provides us with a more efficient way of collecting and re-using that wastewater.
The wastewater is pumped from our collection trench into the tank pictured. After a day or so, the solids from the glaze separate from the water and settles to the bottom of the tank. The "clean" water is then pumped out of the top of the tank and used to clean the automatic glazing machine, which sometimes happens twice a day. The used glaze that has settled to the bottom of the tank is then drained out and mixed into our clay mixes for future tile orders!
Very cool stuff!!
Wastewater tank outside Fireclay Tile factory in Aromas, California
Side view of Fireclay Tile's wastewater tank where glaze solids settle in the wastewater
Dec. 5, 2012
In October, Fireclay Tile announced that it was donating to Greenbuild’s Legacy Project. Each year the USGBC’s Greenbuild conference and expo chooses a project to thank the host city. This year the conference was in San Francisco and the Legacy Projects were two urban gardens. The funds for the projects were not only to set up the garden, but to provide support and training to keep the garden going. Check out our previous blog here.
We were very excited to support this endeavor! We decided that for every person who came to Fireclay’s booth at Greenbuild and had his or her badge scanned, we would give $1 to the Greenbuild’s Legacy Project. We gathered around 350 scans so we were able to donate $350! Below are photos from the conference.
Here is the graphic for our Greenbuild 2012 buttons
Fireclay's tweet about scanning for Greenbuild's Legacy Project
Fireclay's Wendy in the booth at the beginning of the first day of Greenbuild
On the second day of the expo, where product and service providers have booths, Fireclay closed the factories in San Jose and Aromas and brought the entire Fireclay team to San Francisco. Everyone had the chance to look around the expo at Greenbuild and have a picnic lunch. It was a great day to spend some time with co-workers, see other companies and see Fireclay tile installations in downtown San Francisco.
Hello from the entire Fireclay team in San Francisco!
The Fireclay team has a picnic lunch at Yerba Buena Gardens
Eric & Fireclay team in front of the Melt on New Montgomery St. where Fireclay's Glazed Thin Brick is installed
Dearsy, Isidro and Martin take sit down for a second during a tour of Fireclay tile installations in downtown San Francisco
Paul (in center, smiling) and some of the Fireclay Team in San Francisco
Fireclay Team on the bus to San Jose and Aromas
Paul in front of Greenbuild 2012 & the "Team Fireclay" bus