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Handpainted Sneak Peek: Meet Susanne Redfield Founder of Kibak Tile

Handpainted Sneak Peek: Meet Susanne Redfield Founder of Kibak Tile

Sneek Peak of our new Handpainted designs by Susanne Redfield

Spring is just around the corner, and with the season's promise of a fresh start we will be launching brand new collections of handpainted tiles, designed by the talented Susanne Redfield of K I B A K T I L E .  Our collaboration with Susanne has inspired a fresh new approach to our handpainted tile, with new designs inspired by the simple beauty of wall coverings and textiles.  WIth her creative expertise and an extensive background in the handpainted tile industry, we are thrilled to welcome Susanne to the Fireclay Team!  We took a minute to chat with Susanne about her background, her inspirations, and our exciting new collaboration, so go ahead and meet the designer behind our brand new Handpainted collection launching this Spring!



Hi Susanne!  We'd like to know, how did you get your start with ceramics and handpainted tile?  

Susanne – I was raised in a very Danish household in Southern California.  At home I was surrounded by all the great mid-century Danish designers in all mediums–furniture, glass, silver, textiles and ceramics. Outside I loved the Spanish stucco homes with their Malibu and Catalina Tiles.  We visited our family often in Denmark so I was exposed to the Danish aesthetic first hand, I could sense that art, architecture and all things handcrafted were revered and integrated into everyday life.  When my Mother built a little ceramic studio in our backyard she encouraged me to play around, I really enjoyed it, especially hand building and texture.  However, I never considered ceramics as a career until I took a class from John Gil at CSU and was pushed by him to switch majors from pre-law to ceramics. I got my degree in Ceramics from the University of California Santa Cruz in 1981. In 1982 I took my first tile line to the legendary interior showroom,  Kneedler-Fauchere. There, K I B A K T I L E, was accepted and I was mentored by Dorothy and Harry Lawenda.

Where do you gain inspiration for your designs? 

Susanne – I  am certainly inspired by the complex world around me, from the symmetry of seashells and pinecones, to the randomness of the dipped fabrics used to make antique Japanese kimonos. But, I am also inspired  and motivated by the confidence, daring, and brashness of others. My first favorite ceramic artists, Bjørn Wiinblad, inspired not so much by his whimsical drawings as by his wild abandon, decorating everything he could get his hands on. Another, Ruth Duckworth, also showed no fear with color or pattern, I am mesmerized by her work. Equally, I can be transported by the restraint and minimalism of Toshiko Takaezu and the gall of Peter Voulkous.

Similar designs will be available as part of our new Morrocan collection

What do you love about the process of making handpainted tile? 

Susanne – I have been playing with clay and glaze for over thiry years and am continuously fascinated by what can be created out of, essentially, mud and silica, add some fire and the opportunities are endless.  I believe my passion for pairing stunningly complex glazes has set Kibak Tile, and now Fireclay Tile oceans apart from the world of mass-produced tiles.  Each glaze we offer in the comprehensive color palette has been carefully chosen for its unique quality, depth, and rebellious nature. When these extraordinary colors are woven together on one tile, they create a completely unique and captivating product.  In my world hand crafted excellence, attention to detail, and the desire for each job to be a masterpiece is the daily bread.

What about Fireclay sparked your interest in working with us? 

Susanne – After 30 years of going it alone I was  ready to collaborate with a motivated, creative, energetic, team. Geographic location had made me a lone entrepreneur, but in my heart I believe in collaborative endeavors.  I looked at Fireclay Tile and saw a cutting edge company racing into the future whether it was the founders, Paul Burns, dedication to recycle and reuse or the novel idea of  "tile to the people" via a state of the art website. The 'made in California' label thrills me for many reasons not the least of which I am a native of the state and feel a certain loyalty. I wanted to be part of the future of ceramic tile.  I also felt Kibak Tile's library of designs and our new take on the dry line process could bring a lot to the table.

What excites you the most about our new collaboration?

Susanne – One of the most exciting aspects of the work we are doing at Fireclay Tile is the speed which we will be able to get colors, designs, shapes, and innovations, to market. In the past designer/manufacturers  like myself had to wait a year or more to get our new creations sampled and out to all the individual showrooms. Our launch capabilities with Fireclay's new website as far as responding to colors and design genres is thrilling. As our production capabilities increase, our nimbleness will keep pace, a new and exciting concept for architects and designers as well as homeowners.

Similar designs will be available as part of our new contemporary collection

Thank you for chatting with us, Susanne!

Stay tuned for more information on our new handpainted collection, and while you're waiting feel free to check out our current handpainted selection!