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Q&A with Bay Area Architect, Josh Mogal eco+historical homes

Posted by: Kali • Dec 5

Q&A with Bay Area Architect, Josh Mogal eco+historical homes

Kitchen designed by Josh Mogal of eco+historical using our Debris Series in Caribbean Blue, Image: Michael Keeny

San Francisco based architect, 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!

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