Featuring exclusive Q&A with Kate Sterling, Director of Product & Marketing
In the design center, when the need for tile arises, we can offer our clients many options. However, we admittedly have a go-to that’s our favorite, hands down.
Who? A (not so) little company called AKDO.
Why? The way they design and manufacture their tiles is just…different.
How? The patterns are unique. The styles are interchangeable. The colors are mind-bending. The options are endless. (We could keep going!)
Working with such an amazing product, we wanted to know more about what goes on behind the scenes. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Kate Sterling, Director of Product & Marketing, for an exclusive Q&A.
(We also revisit some of our favorite projects using tile by AKDO…for those photos, scroll to bottom!)
D&D: How does AKDO’s creative process work? Do you start with a design first, or do you look at the stone or material and then figure out the best way to use it?
KS: “It can go any number of ways. Sometimes the material is what inspires the design. The best example of this is our Origami Collection, the linear movement of certain natural stones is what led to the designs, which are intended to look like the stone is folding in on itself to create a dynamic three-dimensional feel.”
Allure Captivate Mosaic Calacatta Mirror
Origami Setsumi Zebra
KS: “Other times the patterns are developed first and we pick the colorways later. Our classic Allure collection was like that, I wanted to play with micro-mosaic and developed all of the patterns, and then looked for materials that took the patterns to the next level, landing on tiny mirrors and polished stones.
There are lines that are a mix of both, like our Next Collection. We wanted to use terrazzo in a line, so we developed colors of terrazzo that worked best with our natural stone. Terrazzo is a trending material so it was important to choose patterns that have traditional roots in order to keep the product timeless. Most people want their tile installations to stand the test of time and feel current over the course of many years so we tried to balance that with Next.”
Next Hex Ombra w/ Shadow Terrazzo & Brass
Next Diagonal Ombra w/ Shadow Terrazzo
What are the biggest sources of inspiration for creating your fabulous AKDO tiles?
KS: “It can be anything! Something will simply grab my attention when looking at certain materials or patterns that starts me thinking about how to make it into fabulous tile.”
Sublime Plume Thassos & Shade
“It can be really abstract, like our Plume pattern was inspired by randomly seeing a piece of freeform quilting. I took the shapes I saw and had to figure out a way that the pattern would retain its beauty while being repetitive and easy to install.”
Luster Coastal Pearl
“Or, our Luster ceramic was inspired by the beauty of the Nacre of a seashell.”
What are some national and/or international projects featuring AKDO tile that you are most proud of?
KS: “I am genuinely proud every time I see AKDO product used in a project. That someone chooses our product for such permanent use shows they really love it, which is a huge thrill.”
NYC project photo courtesy of AKDO.
“Anecdotally, I was in NYC years ago with some friends and went into the Plaza Hotel on a whim. They have a huge food hall there; I turned the corner and a custom version of our mosaic was used on a massive feature wall. I didn’t know it had been specified for the project so it was a complete surprise.”
Learn more about that project here: https://professional.akdo.com/case-study-restaurant/
Essence Whimsy Sapphire Art Glass w/ Calacatta
What are the hottest tile trends you have noticed this year?
KS: “I get asked this question a lot, but don’t think tile trends move as quickly as other industries like fashion or accessories. Trends develop over the course of many years due to the longevity of the medium. I see fine tuning of concepts, like people still love metal, but since we’ve mastered manufacturing, we are able to start using it in technologically complex ways that results in an uber refined look. We have a new line coming out before the end of the year called Wish that will incorporate extremely thin metal lines, I’m excited for it.”
Azul Macaubas Select Raw slab in AKDO facility.
“Another example is with color, while bolder colors are being used more in design, it’s a subtle shift in tile, for example darker blues are becoming more and more common, and gray is transitioning to greige. They are still considered neutrals, but have more personality. You’ll see more of that coming from AKDO over the next several months.”
How was business different for you in 2020? What are a few challenges you have faced? What are a few positive things that have happened?
KS: “2020 proved to me that people are adaptable, its inspiring to see everyone’s flexibility as we navigate doing business in a COVID world. Of course, in the beginning it was frightening to see the pandemic move across the globe. We do a lot of business with factories in Italy, Spain, China, etc., so before things hit hard in the US we were seeing how disruptive the virus can be. However, people who sell tile have a great mix of creativity and business savvy, this situation isn’t going to stop us. Now, compared to the beginning of last year, things are in good shape.”
AKDO social squares on Instagram. Follow them on Instagram @akdo_usa.
“The most exciting thing for me as a marketer has been the drive to create more and better digital content – everyone has amped up their digital efforts since face-to-face meetings and tradeshows are not happening. This lit a competitive fire under my team to find new ways to show off our product and get people engaged. I especially love the videos we shoot for social media; I think they are fun and have a meditative quality. Definite eye candy! We have a new video concept launching on our Instagram @akdo_usa within the month, stay tuned!”
Kate Sterling, Director of Product & Marketing and Yesim Karsu, Territory Sales Representative.
Thanks so much to Kate Sterling for taking the time to chat with us. And a very special thanks to Yesim Karsu for arranging the interview and providing content for this article.
Before we go, here are a few favorite Dwelling & Design projects we’ve completed featuring AKDO:
Vertical tiles in shower, plus diagonal floor tiles by AKDO.
Wet bar backsplash featuring tiles by AKDO.
Shower featuring granite metro-style and hexagonal floor tiles by AKDO.
Kitchen backsplash featuring azul macauba tile. Co-designed by client.
Custom shower featuring a variety of stone tiles by AKDO.
Shower featuring large metro-style tiles and “cascading” mosaic. Also, pebble floor tiles by AKDO.
Glass cabinet featuring marble and metallic tiles by AKDO.
Wet bar with azul macauba mosaic tiles by AKDO.
For more information about AKDO, visit their website here.
Also, to view the entire collection of samples, including the latest 2021 releases, visit our design center today!