"I am a self-professed perfectionist,” says Kirsten Sharp, co-owner of Julep Tile Company in Louisville. The tile designer and her husband, Peter, who oversees the manufacturing process, pride themselves on creating impeccable pieces that fit seamlessly. The tiles, offered through Decorative Materials, evoke an almost textile-like finish when installed and sport a range of classic motifs. When it comes to inspiration, Kirsten has found it everywhere, from a brocade swatch picked up in Montmartre to stained glass inside a Worcestershire church. “One of our most popular designs, Damask, was influenced by the pattern on a kitchen apron,” she says. The unique handcrafted tiles also stand out for their fabrication method. Each batch of tile is fired only once, leaving a smaller carbon footprint than with typical tile production. “We have an inherent interest in minimizing the impact on the environment,” Peter says. But the ultimate thrill, Kirsten says, is seeing its impact on others. “If our tile can help inspire someone’s grand vision for their space, I think we’ve done our job.”
LX: I love what I do because...
KS: We have the freedom to pursue an idea in the manner we choose, whether it’s a new design or a manufacturing strategy.
PS: Tile lasts indefinitely, and it’s satisfying to know that our product might be in place for decades.
LX: Dream collaborations...
KS: I am a big fan of designer Joan Behnke, and I adore Renee Kiser at Studio R Interiors. They both seem to share a similar appreciation for elegant design, and I’d love to see how either of them would use our collection.
LX: Greatest Influences...
KS: I grew up in a late-1890s Victorian farmhouse. I think the patterns of the fabrics, wallpaper and stenciling stuck with me.
LX: Tools of the trade...
KS: The pug mill we use to recycle scrap clay, the hand-crank tile press we use to shape our tile, and our radio—we are big NPR junkies.
LX: What do you collect?
KS: Art from places we visit.
PS: Tools. I like to know that I can make (or break) most things in and around the house if I need to.