We love a good collaboration and enjoyed teaming up with Construction 2 Style as they redesigned the Mercury Mosaics headquarters. In part 1 of this Certified Rad project review, we sat down with Mercedes Austin, Founder and CEO of Mercury Mosaics, and her team to get the skinny on their vision for a remodel, the history of their business, and what’s to come.
Shelfology: Tell us about your background and your company—How did it come about?
Mercedes Austin, Founder: Mercury Mosaics came about when I was challenged to have a backup plan for my dreams of making art for a living. Being raised in a family of makers, entrepreneurs, and industrial designers, it’s all I knew. It was a fair question and led to what has become the art of manufacturing, an art of inventory forecasting, and a practice of transforming walls into functional art through our tile.
Shelfology: What is your business philosophy?
Mercedes: Mercury Mosaics was envisioned to be a place where creatives could build a career and still have the energy to pursue their big dreams. I wanted to make tile for people in a way that wasn’t afraid of color and pattern. I have always viewed walls as canvases and from an early age was encouraged to use my walls as a place to bring murals and collages to life.
Shelfology: What are your goals and vision for your company?
Mercedes: Our mission is, “Enhancing the world one handmade tile at a time.” We operate with these values:
- Creativity: using innovation to enhance & inspire
- Passionately Committed: driven by heart & perseverance
- Make Something Together: working in harmony
Our 5-year vision is best shared at length in this blog—grab a coffee and enjoy. As we embark on closing our 2nd year into this 5-year vision, the biggest lesson is that you can change things and rewrite the playbook. Failures along the way can become your biggest teacher, and if you stay true to your values, you will blaze a trail that is worth traveling.
Shelfology: How do you approach projects with customers?
Randi Steingold, Executive Design Consultant: We usually like to see pictures of their space or of finishes they plan to use in their renovation. Then, we discover which shapes they are drawn to so we can narrow down what they like and what works for their space. We take an individual approach and walk people through choices, so no matter how big or small the project, we make sure to find the perfect tile color, shape, pattern, or design.
Shelfology: What's your favorite type of project to take on? What type of design gets you excited?
Randi: I love when clients come with a good sense of what they want but are open to ideas. This can lend itself to some of the most beautiful collaborations. There isn't really a specific design but people who love color and fun combinations of color are my favorite.
Shelfology: What current trends do you love?
Maggie Dragan, Content Manager: Honestly, there’s not much more we love than talking about tile trends so we’ll share just a few. First, we are seeing things warming up in the tile world and we are so here for it. Welcoming terra-cotta floors and cozy umber fireplaces will always have our hearts. Another trend that’s making our vintage-loving hearts throb is mixing the old with the new. Whether it’s re-designing a Victorian pattern or dreaming up a trendy 70s palette, we’ve seen an uptick in clients wanting a modern twist on their classic design.
Shelfology: Which trends do you think are on the way out?
Maggie: It’s hard to say what’s not in style when it comes to tile. We’re pretty firm believers in that ‘you love what you love’ and it’s as simple as that. However, after the past few years of people getting extremely used to their homes, we’ve seen clients shy away from minimalist spaces and embrace more maximalist designs when it comes to tile. We think people are looking towards more funky patterns and exciting colors as a way to dress up their nested homes during a time when we had little reason to dress up ourselves.
Shelfology: Give us an overview of the headquarters redesign project from your point of view. What were your goals for this project and your thought process behind the solution? How did you work together? What were the challenges?
Mercedes: Sustaining the company during a pandemic forced us to reinvent our work life as we knew it. That challenge actually empowered us to rebuild a better business—one that fosters our community and allows us to be much more cohesive. Based on the synergy we’ve created internally, we’ve outgrown our current headquarters nestled in the center of the Thorp Building. We’re no longer able to keep everything we do under one roof. This new space will embrace the future of flexible working. It will support collaboration between our teams as a model to promote working together in harmony. I wanted my Make team to be able to blast music during the week without worrying about important client meetings. Loud noises for various forms of manufacturing should happen freely, without concern for in-progress conference calls.
The Design Studio represents the future of Mercury Mosaics. We are committing to being a mature, thriving, design-driven manufacturing company, and with that comes more intentionality with our teams and the spaces that surround them. The workplace environment is critical for employee performance. The physical aspects of a workplace environment have a direct impact on a team’s productivity, performance, health and safety, comfort, ability to concentrate, ability to collaborate, job satisfaction, and morale. We are fueling our growth with direct investment in our most important resources: the team.
Shelfology: What are your favorite touches in the new Design Studio?
Maggie: Working in the Design Studio is a total dream—[I’m] often pinching myself to remind me it’s real. And the best part is, the dream’s not over yet! The space continues to evolve everyday with more gorgeous pieces coming together. So far, the Sample Wall has been stealing our hearts. It’s the first thing you see when walking through our street-side entrance, and it’s everything we’ve ever wanted in a colorful, grand entry: natural wood, cool steel, luxurious fabric, and glistening tile.
Shelfology: We were happy to be part of your Sample Wall design, how did the design elements all come together?
Mercedes: Our mission to enhance the world, one handmade tile at a time, is alive throughout the interior planning of our new design studio. As we dreamt up our new space, we knew it was important to include several, thoughtfully-curated moments, one of which was our colorful Sample Wall.
Because of the space’s assertive, industrial nature and vintage-modern vibe, we pulled together a mix of materials that feel like they could have been in the space when it was originally built while adding modern twists.
We’re fanatical about details, so by curating a space that blends 100+ year-old wood, contemporary steel, and soulful artisan tile, we honored the history and brought our story to the visual narrative.
Shelfology: What’s next for Mercury Mosaics?
Mercedes: What’s next is an initiative very dear to our mission that includes sustainability, all the while honoring the art of ceramic, and that is: Revival Tile.
We dropped a blog recently going into the facets of this initiative here.
Thank you to Mercedes, Randi and Maggie for your insight into the Mercury Mosaics ethos and your exciting plans for the future. We stoke on your creativity and can’t wait to see where you go! You, Mercury Mosaics, are undoubtedly Certified Rad.
Founded on the belief that artists shouldn’t have to starve to produce and enjoy their craft, Mercury Mosaics is led by talented ceramic artist Mercedes Austin. From her early workshop days in Italy, to today's showroom and production space, Mercedes continues to impress with her dedication to creativity, ability to see the big picture, and her drive to wake up her clients' walls with color and style. Kudos to this style-maker whose bold vision is bringing tiled walls everywhere from drab to fab.
Read More about the project from Mercury Mosaics here.
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