Stories: Steeped in Style
For San Francisco-based Commercial Designer Laura Taylor, tea is more than just a routine—it’s a design philosophy. For our Story Teller Contest held earlier this year, Laura wanted to capture the sensory, tactile quality of tea drinking and translate it into a tile palette that soothes, stimulates, and inspires.
From steeping dried herbs to cradling a warm ceramic cup, Laura's treasured tea moments are captured through calming neutrals and earthy, indulgent hues:
Keep reading to learn more about Laura's inspiration behind Steeped in Style and her best design tips.
You're our second storyteller winner! How did you come up with your "Steeped in Style" concept? What inspired you?
I drink a lot of tea and find such joy in curating the collection of mugs I drink from; I wouldn’t dare degrade a quality tea with a run-of-the-mill vessel! Ceramics is a craft I’ve long admired and requires artistry that interior designers and architects can certainly appreciate. I’ve found that using handmade ceramic tile in my own projects is a clever way to infuse them with the same attractive qualities of handmade ceramic vessels - a sense of human touch in the craftsmanship that provides contrast to hard, modern aesthetics and infuses warmth.
Check out Laura's Steeped in Style Pinterest Board to see more inspiration behind her collection.
How did you decide on the eight colors that make up your palette?
I began by choosing the colors that reflected tea leaves. Hunter Green, Rosemary, and Pumice all have warm, earthy tones reflective of nature. I chose Basalt and Calcite next because I believe strong, simple neutrals are essential for a bold design. Loch Ness and Gypsum stood out to me as glazes reminiscent of the mugs, dishes, and other vessels made by my favorite ceramicists with their finish and veining. Finally, Mustard Seed provided that pop of color to represent a tea’s garnish – a flower petal amongst tea leaves, a citrus peel, or a drop of honey.
Overall the palette is earthy but luxurious, simple but warm, like the perfect cup of tea!
Why do you love tile? How do you like to use tile in your designs?
Tile is such a classic design element, particularly because of its durability, and I constantly notice its charm in historic architecture and interiors across many cultures and historic styles. Ceramic tile, in particular, has a real honesty in its materiality as the texture and color feel infused within the product. I love that tile can create a loud, highly-patterned wow moment, or a simple canvas that enhances the design elements around it. It’s durability and versatility make it easy to use in commercial environments while bringing in the warmth of a more residential feeling project. I think the familiarity of ceramic tile in our interior spaces resonates with us as wood materials and textiles resonate with us…simply because we use and touch the materials in our everyday lives through clothing, furniture, and tea mugs.
How do you go about creating interesting and unique spaces?
A variety of texture is so important when creating a dynamic environment. If a material with a distinctive texture is out of reach, I like to use additional lighting to visually emphasize it. You have to make your space feel as good as it looks.
What's key to making a space feel complete?
Accessories! The final touch for every project should be a slew of accessories which might include artwork, plants, pillows, books, dishes, or doodads. Accessories help connect a project to its unique client whether that be an individual or an entire company.
What are three of your best design tips?
1). Create opportunities for special moments – and don’t create them everywhere: Great design requires a balance of emphasis and simplicity. I love when 80% of my design is simple and 20% stands out as really special. In a world of feasibility constraints, I strive to spend my budget on the special moments.
2). Use materials that are produced from natural products and are sustainably and ethically sourced to make your design mean more: Designers have the power to move the markets when they source sustainably-produced and ethically-produced products. We shouldn’t have to choose between a beautiful material or a conscientious material – we should demand both!
3). Pick a warm or cool tone for your neutrals early on in your project: Color is complex and it can play tricks on your mind. Stick with the same family of grays – cool gray, warm, gray, or French gray- so that your accent colors read consistently across your project.
What do you love about your job?
Giving good design to the people! I love putting extra oomph into the public spaces of my projects where it will reach the most people, knowing that not everyone has access to impactful design in their homes. I believe beautiful, sustainable, healthy spaces shouldn’t only available to CEOs and celebs.
Whatever your space or taste, Laura's expert design tips ensure you're always Steeped in Style.