Designer Spotlight: Noz Design | Fireclay Tile
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Designer Spotlights

Designer Spotlight: Noz Design

By Kali

Designer Spotlight: Noz Design

Meet San Francisco-based designer, Noz Nozawa! After leaving a successful marketing career, Noz Nozawa launched Noz Design in 2014 to transform a lifelong passion into her dream job. Now known for some of the boldest and most original interiors in the Bay Area and beyond, the California native was named Sunset Magazine’s 2020 Best Designer of the West.

Meet Bay Area Designer Noz Nozawa!

You can bring home Noz’s curated color selections and mix and match your favorites for a one-of-a-kind color palette. Featuring 2x4 ceramic samples in Milky Way, Alpaca, Sorbet, Bryce Canyon, Glacier Bay, Tidewater, Caribbean and Blue Velvet.

Noz Nozawa's favorite tile colors.

What made you choose this palette?
I love when color comes together with texture and sheen, and that's exactly what I love about all these colors. On their own, each is so amazing – I love the crazing, glossy vs. matte sheens, and subtle variation across tiles in the same color batch. But let's be real, I'd totally use all these colors together in a single space too!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your firm Noz Design? Where are you based?
I've been a proud San Francisco resident since 2008, and started Noz Design in 2014 after leaving my moderately/questionably successful marketing career behind. It's been an incredible + wild 6+ years so far! I think starting your own business is always a wild and tumultuous ride no matter your origin story, but I started this design firm from scratch with no *formal* education or prior work experience in construction or interiors, so in 2014 I would have described my path as "reckless" and now it's an amazing dream career.

How did you hear about Fireclay Tile? What are your favorite products?
I first heard about Fireclay because I had driven past the 8th and Brannan location of the showroom for YEARS before heading inside. Then of course from my first steps into the showroom years ago, it's been pure love. My favorite products are MANY of the hand-painted pattern tiles, the Chain Homme tile shape (husband's last name is Helmhold, so eventually he's going to insist we rep some H tiles somewhere!!).

Chaine Homme in Sorbet

Tile Shown: Chaine Homme in Sorbet

And the BRICKS. The texture of the Brick and the fact that there are corner-bricks is the absolute best.

This classic cabin kitchen backsplash gets a playful pop with a single Brick in red.

Brick shown: White Mountains and a single Catskill // Image: Noz Nozawa

Why do you like working with tile?
Tile is basically built-in artwork for your hard surfaces spaces – what more can you ask for?! I love working with tile to create patterns and visual interest and FUN in spaces that are otherwise principally about function, like bathrooms and kitchens.

This new traditional bathroom's standout feature is its navy blue accent tile shower, featuring our large format ceramic tile accented with our Chaine Femme pattern.

Tile Shown: 6x12 and Chaine Femme in Navy Blue

Beyond the limitless possibilities with glaze colors, textures, and tile *shapes*, even square and rectangular tiles can surprise and delight you when used in unexpected arrangements. And then don't even get me started with how fun colorful grouts can be, even though that sounds so dumb as I write it!


Tile Shown: 4" Triangles in French Linen

What are some fun facts about yourself?

1. I can only blink my left eye or both eyes, and I can only move my mouth to the left, or smile with both sides. I can't make the right side of my face move independently!

2. My first interior design project as a kid was an attempt at recreating the tented ceilings I saw in design books. I had no allowance money but a lot of *ideas*, so I took blue plastic wrap and attempted to drape it from the corners of my bedroom into the center light fixture. It was a mess but I sure did leave it up for years.

3. I'm color-synaesthetic so I see numbers as colors, which makes me dangerous in terms of what I can memorize :)

This colorful blend of hexagons makes for a playful kitchen backsplash.

TIle Shown: 3" Hexagons in Naples Blue, Nautical and Tusk // Image: Noz Nozawa

How would you describe your aesthetic or design style?
I think our aesthetic definitely evolves to suit the architecture of a space or a client's vision of home, but I'd say that broadly, the designs we put forth are boldly enigmatic and playfully narrative.

Design by Noz Nozawa Design

What inspires you? Where do you look for design inspiration?
Inspiration comes from everywhere! I love finding inspiration from places as obvious as Instagram or whatever wacko items can be found on 1stdibs, to the plumage of birds and patterns or color arrangements found in nature. Sometimes inspiration sources become the guidance for an entire space's concept, and sometimes they feed ideas for a specific element of a project. The limitlessness of inspiration for interior design is one of the most magical parts of this job!

Design by Noz Nozawa Design

What's your process when you start a new project?
Every project starts with learning and listening to the client or project objectives – that's foundational to the success of any design, to start from how that space will be used and lived in. From there, we go functionality-first in developing storage plans, furniture plans, etc. to ensure that the flow and usefulness of a space we're creating will really enhance a home dweller's everyday life. And then, we make it beautiful, rad, bold, serene, or whatever fabulous adjective describes how a client wants to *feel* in the space.

2x6 straight set tiles in Caribbean make for a spa-like bathroom.

Tile Shown: 2x6 in Caribbean

What are 5 of your best design tips?

1. If you want a colorful room, go big with colorful furniture and/or walls! I don't think pillows and blankets alone can get you to a truly colorful space.

2. If you go bold with a paint color or tile that you knew you were going to love but then are shocked by it when it comes to life, give yourself like a week to live with it! Our brains are wired to resist dramatic change, so sometimes a bold move needs a few days to settle in before you realize it was actually an amazing decision after all!

Color blocked in teal and white, two-toned bathroom tiles in our playful Picket pattern is a delight to little ones and grown-ups alike.

Tile Shown: Pickets in Glacier Bay and White Wash

3. Don't let anything be too precious; this is advice I need to remind myself to take all the time!

4. Resist the temptation to buy something that works "for now" if it's not urgently essential to your home. Certainly address functional needs, but if for example you know you want a new lounge chair, be patient in finding one that you love. No one "needs" a lounge chair, so it'll be much more rewarding to find The Right Chair than to get exhausted of the process and settle for something with the intention of replacing it later.

Design by Noz Nozawa Design

5. It matters most if you love it – not what anyone else thinks, if it seems passé, if it's trendy, or anything else.

2x6 tiles in Cyclone and Tusk

Tile Shown: 2x6 in Cyclone and Tusk

Which Fireclay products are you dying to use on your next project?
Y'all have been releasing such incredible new glaze colors that I am so excited to explore on future projects. But also, I am keen to use your glass tile!! I want to mix the gloss and matte finishes in the same space and play with all the gorgeous glass colors.

All of our glass tiles come in both a matte and gloss finish--pair together to play with texture!

Glass Tile Shown: 2x12s in Falcon Gloss and Matte

How has your business changed in 2020? Has your design process changed? How have you been staying inspired?
We're definitely having a slower year than 2019 for project volume, and we're doing fewer site visits / it's harder for me to hear people through masks, haha! But much of our design process was able to be conducted remotely with clients before the pandemic, so we've been fortunate that the concept and drawing phase hasn't been very affected – plus my one teammate and I have been working remotely since the beginning of the year so we had plenty of practice before shelter-in-place started. As for staying inspired, having more capacity in the week to explore ideas has been a gift! There's more room in the schedule to design concept furniture, play with wild ideas for parts of my cabin remodel, and slow down to really process inspiring ideas.

Want to sample Noz's Fireclay Favorites? Click here!


Colors include: Milky Way, Alpaca, Sorbet, Bryce Canyon, Glacier Bay, Tidewater, Caribbean, and Blue Velvet.

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