At Alden Miller Interiors we use tile in many ways and are always looking to source beautiful, original tile. We love the striking colors and bold patterns of Smink Studio tile. Tiles are screen printed individually or made in a relief style where shapes are pressed into the tile. It is the bespoke layout of the tile patterns that creates the unique and memorable Smink effect.
Marianna Smink is an unlikely tile designer. While she had a background in design, she came by tile design by accident. Her one-of-a-kind, imperfect ceramic tiles are handmade and glazed in Portugal. We wanted to get to know the force behind Smink Studio and talked to its creator.
Alden @ Alden Miller Interiors: “How did your career lead you to tile?”
Marianne @ Smink Studio: “I worked in the fashion industry in the Netherlands and the UK for a long time, designing clothes, patterns, etc. I liked working with patterns and colors, in particular but in fashion, speed is everything and I began to feel far removed from the final product, which I was, of course, geographically and creatively. Then one day, after moving houses, I looked at my kitchen floor and decided that I wanted to make tiles for it — from design all the way through to production. It was a tiny spark of inspiration.
I started working on the project at a local ceramic studio, experimenting with screen-printing onto unfired clay tiles. I found it thrilling to open the kiln and see what came out. I never came to a final tile for my kitchen floor but I did end up with my first tile collection. They’re still made by hand, only now at a factory in Portugal.”
Alden @ Alden Miller Interiors: “What is your favorite thing about your job?”
Marianne @ Smink Studio: A while ago, I started working with clients to create a layout for each project and I love that way of working. I get inspired by other design people: architects, interior designers, etc. I get the same thrill working with the artisan tile makers in Portugal.
Alden @ Alden Miller Interiors: “What are your biggest inspirations?”
Marianne @ Smink Studio: I’m in love with the way individual tiles come together to create a layout. One tile on its own is not very interesting, although it’s beautiful in its handmade and tactile nature. But together, the tiles combine in color and composition and take on a new identity — they come to life. For this reason, I keep my tiles very simple. It’s really surprising, how endless the possibilities are.
Alden @ Alden Miller Interiors: “Do you have a “motto”, spoken or unspoken?”
Marianne @ Smink Studio: I don’t actually think in terms of mottos but now that you’ve asked me… ‘Simple is beautiful,’, and ‘Human attention is the key.’ Also ‘Only do it if it inspires you,’ because I think that’s the only way it will inspire others.
Alden @ Alden Miller Interiors: “What did you think you were going to be growing up?”
Marianne @ Smink Studio: I assumed I’d work with animals, preferably horses or monkeys.
Alden @ Alden Miller Interiors: “What are your hobbies?”
Marianne @ Smink Studio: I cycle, I walk, and I do yoga, all to counterbalance my restless mind. I also love good company, good food and good conversation.
Alden @ Alden Miller Interiors: “Is there anything you wish would come back into style?”
Marianne @ Smink Studio: I often feel inspired by a certain design style from the past or from a certain country. For example, I love the colours and tactile quality of Japanese artisan work and I love the architecture of The Amsterdamse School. And when I feel inspired by something (anything, anyone) I don’t wait for it to come back in style.
Alden @ Alden Miller Interiors: “How is designing tile different from how you imagined it to be? Where do you see yourself and Smink Studio in the next 10 years?”
Marianne @ Smink Studio: I became a tile designer by accident. One step inspired the next, and the next, and so on. It just evolved that way. I hope the future will be similarly organic. Where it will lead? Against all business advice, I don’t actually have a plan, but I’m curious to see.