In a shift from pared down, neutral environments to more maximalist, colorful spaces, tile can be an especially fun, functional focal point, say Hilary Gibbs and Georgie Smith, the step-sister duo behind LIVDEN, a high-end sustainable tile brand based in San Diego.
LIVDEN recently unveiled several new collections, full of the bold, geometric patterns the 4-year-old company has become known for. The designs, with eye-catching deep earth tones and brights, work in spaces from boho to midcentury modern, Gibbs and Smith say.
We talked with LIVDEN’s co-founders about their latest introductions, why it was important for them to create a sustainable tile line, how interior designers are at the core of their business, and more.
New — and favorite — designs
In its El Dorado collection, LIVDEN imagines what tiles might be found in the “lost city of gold,” with texturized colors and bold shapes. Designs in the midcentury modern Nova collection draw inspiration from moons and planets. The Nova group also includes the Metro Shatter pattern “of randomized angles and prisms that demand the attention of anyone who enters the room.” The company dares designers to lay Shatter in random directions or combine colorways for an attention-getting, customized design.
The patterns in the Elly collection are a bit more subdued and sophisticated, yet playful for the “quintessential boho collection,” the company says. Finally, LIVDEN’s new Rematch collection is rooted in midcentury style but enlivened by the step-sisters’ nostalgia for favorite board games of their youth: Roundabout, and Chutes and Ladders. “This mashup collection is for those who want to make a bright statement,” the company notes.
When it comes to favorites from the new collections, Gibbs’ choice is Mesa from the El Dorado line. (Design News Now admits it’s a bit unfair to ask designers to pick a favorite!)
“I just think it’s just so California, and the colors are so soothing,” says Gibbs, who serves as head of product development for LIVDEN. “It’s simple yet complex at the same time. I love the colors along with the geometric shapes and just think it’s perfect for a California bathroom or kitchen.”
Smith’s favorite is Half Moon, part of the Nova collection. “I think it’s gorgeous,” says Smith, who serves as director of sales and marketing. “There’s so much texture incorporated into the artwork. It’s playing with light and dark, shades and textures. … I’d love to see it in commercial spaces — cafes, gym walls, that kind of thing. So, I’m going to pick that one as my favorite today.”
Time for more tile
The new designs are perfect for the fresh ways designers are using tile, Gibbs and Smith say.
“People are picking their tile first and then picking their paint colors and cabinetry to go with the tile. It’s the star of the room,” Gibbs says. “… As the trend moves back toward maximalism and color and pattern, we see an uptick in wallpapers — and tile goes hand in hand with that.”
Designers and homeowners are really playing with tile in the bathroom, Gibbs says. “In bathrooms, either master bathrooms or power rooms, people had been keeping them simple, but now people seem to love using bold tile. We’re seeing among our residential clients a lot of fun tile in bathroom floors and showers.”
The company’s tiles are popping up in other spots, too, from ceilings to dog washing stations to behind beds in lieu of headboards, Smith says.
Why sustainability matters
LIVDEN is a sister company (no pun intended) of StoneImpressions, a tile source founded more than two decades ago by Melinda Earl (Gibbs’ mother and Smith’s stepmother).
While StoneImpressions has more than 400 tile dealers and showrooms across the United States and Canada, LIVDEN has just a small wholesale division. Its customer base is intentionally made up largely of interior designers, both residential and commercial, and architecture firms.
“Hilary and I saw environmental challenges growing every year,” Smith says. “It’s something we’ve always been conscious of growing up in Southern California. We both feel strongly that home design, in general, needs to move more and more in the sustainable direction. There aren’t a lot of high-design (tile) lines that are manufactured 100% in the United States like we are, but we’d love to see that number increase.”
LIVDEN’s niche isn’t just sustainable tile but design-focused sustainable tile. Before founding the company in 2020, “one thing I really noticed was that there was a gap,” Smith says. “There were a lot of sustainable options, but they were more streamlined and plain, and they looked kind of similar.”
“I think one of the things that makes our tiles unique is the color palette,” she continues. “We try to pick colors that are fun and vibrant and different than anything we’ve seen before.”
The company offers three tile types: Polar Ice terrazzo (which use a special binding process to combine post-consumer recycled glass, granite, quartz and quartzite, and pre-consumer porcelain), Chunky terrazzo (offering a more traditional terrazzo profile with larger specks of recycled material throughout the tile base) and Ivory porcelain (which is fired at extremely high temperatures for added durability, stain resistance and moisture resistance). For more on the sustainability of the company’s tiles and the environmental commitments of its manufacturing partners, click here.
Manufacturing in the United States shortens transit distances and times — good for the environment and good for designers awaiting their orders, Gibbs and Smith says.
Catering to designers
LIVDEN has other ways of supporting its designer customers, including the ability to customize designs.
“If we have a designer approach us and say, ‘I love this design, but I want it on the Chunky terrazzo,’ we’ll work with them on that,” Smith says. “We can customize designs as well, changing the colors or changing the elements of a design. We can color match paint chips or cabinetry colors to really help the designer’s vision come to life in the space.”
“I think that’s a really great service we offer directly to designers and probably why that’s our biggest market,” she continues.
Lead times are generally 2-3 weeks (plus transit time) for in-stock tiles and 4-6 weeks (plus transit time) for custom orders.
“We have really great relationships with designers,” Gibbs says. “We have designers that we worked with for years at StoneImpressions and, since we started LIVDEN in 2020, we’re still working with many of the same designers who took a chance on us (with the new company). One example is Jasmine Roth of HGTV. She featured our tile on Season 1 of ‘Help! I Wrecked My House.’ Now she’s on Season 4, and I think we’ve done six houses with her on that show.”