Designing with Handmade Tile: An Interview with Rachel Hulan of Path Design

One of the things I enjoy most about my work is collaborating with interior designers. I love getting to know talented people from different parts of the continent, and seeing and being inspired by their work. It's always a thrill to see how our tiles fit in to many beautiful and varied interiors. I'm happy to introduce a new feature in our blog this month. Each month we will feature a different interior designer and their work, and talk to them about what inspires them, and their favourite ways to use tile. Our very first featured designer is Rachel Hulan, Assoc. IIDA, Principal and founder of Path Design. Path Design is a full service design and consulting firm, located in Santa Ana, California, with a primary focus on residential and small commercial projects. Their mission is to provide clients with beautiful, healthy, innovative surroundings through a commitment to sustainable design principles, and aesthetically pleasing colors and materials.

Tell us a bit about yourself & your business.

I'm an interior designer in Orange County, California, and I own my own business specializing in sustainable design.

If you had to describe your design aesthetic in five words, what would those five words be?

Balanced, appreciative, creative, textural, playful

Where do you find inspiration for your work? What inspires you?

I find inspiration in photographs of unique places, as well as paintings, architectural details and fabrics. The natural world is my biggest inspiration - that and old places full of the past.

Tell us a bit about your studio/work environment.

I live in a wonderful 1925 Spanish Revival house, which was originally built as a home and business, so it still has two front doors. I've taken over the portion of the house that has the reception/parlor and office for my studio. It can be a little chaotic at times, but it's a perfect it for me.

What is the most interesting and unusual use of tile you've seen or worked on in a project?

I've used tile as insets on pieces of furniture, which still surprises people when they see it, although that sort of thing was done quite a bit during the Arts and Crafts era. I've recently seen some tile insets in wooden floors, which I haven't yet done myself, although I would love to give it a try.

What is your best tip for designing effectively with tile?

Try to make sure the tile you will use fits the style of the space you will use it in. I've seen some pretty amazing tile work done in places where it looked out of place. And don't be afraid to go soft on the details. It doesn't have to be over the top to look beautiful.

How have the trends towards green design and interest in hand made, artisan objects affected your design work?

Green design should be just as much about the people who make the product, as it is about what the product is made of. Sustainability means something that can go on and on without taking anything away. Artisans work in small quantities, on products that are made with care and consideration for resources. I always choose to work with handmade products whenever possible.

What is special about your community, environment, and region, and how is that reflected in your design work?

Right now the quality of light where I live has a strange, golden glow to it, which means it's fire season. We live in a warm, arid climate here, but the ocean is not far away, and there are forests of oak trees to hike through if you know where they are. Southern California is a very populous place, and there are so many cultures that have made a home here. I think it all shows in the many facets I bring to my designs. I love color, cultures, nature and contrast - all things you find in abundance here.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Getting to know my clients and working on new ideas with them.

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