Spotlight On: Brandy Janke, Tile Shop Product Designer
We are happy to bring you another spotlight on one of our own: Brandy Janke, The Tile Shop’s product designer. She is responsible for designing some of the most beautiful mosaics and tiles in our stores. Read on to hear about how she got into tile design, her all-time favorites and what purses and tiles have to do with one another. (And make sure to read the image captions to hear about the inspiration behind each tile design!)
What was your path to becoming a product designer? Were you always interested in that field?
I never would have guessed I’d end up in product design but, looking back, it makes perfect sense because design has always been a big part of my life. In kindergarten, other kids were drawing pictures of their families and I was drawing floor plans! I got a lot of this from my dad who taught interior design. Because of his influence, I was directly connecting to my surroundings at home. When I got older, I discovered that I was interested in how I could improve someone’s everyday space and their life, so I decided to study interior design at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. I loved my ceramics class there because it taught me about layering glazes and how different temperatures achieve different effects. After I graduated, I realized tile was the perfect fit for me and my experiences.
You began at The Tile Shop on the sales floor. Can you tell us a little about your journey to where you are now?
After sales, I worked my way up to assistant manager and then store manager. I started noticing and pointing out trends that we were missing or products that I thought would sell well in our stores, and then I was able to move up to the corporate office. In my time at the stores, I learned that tile serves a functional purpose but also plays an important role in design.
Learning how to work with designers, builders and customers who all have different experiences with tile was an important lesson, too. Regardless of if they’re using tile in their day-to-day work or doing a first-time project, everyone can use some assistance creating their vision and blending function with fashion. What I’m doing now allows me to go a step further and develop products that add a special designer touch to a space. It’s exciting knowing I’m creating something that could be a special part of someone’s home for many years.
What are you most proud of in your career at The Tile Shop?
Definitely the amazing designer collaborations I’ve worked on! From the new Annie Selke collection to Laura Ashley and Ted Baker, collaborating with creators, artists and visionaries of great brands has taught me a lot. I’ve learned how I can help guide our partners as they enter a new product category while also appealing to their current customer base and staying true to The Tile Shop’s vision. I love collaborating and bringing the best of two worlds together to create something amazing and new. Knowing that these designs are in homes and a part of people’s lives is a fulfilling feeling.
What are your favorite Tile Shop tiles?
I’ll always have a special connection to the tiles I’ve created, and I love to see the salespeople have fun designing with them. But I’d have to say my favorite is the one I designed that got me this job, the Modern Vineyard listello and mosaic. To see that come to life and to become a part of our product assortment was exciting.
Brandy’s Top 10 Tiles
What are your biggest inspirations and influences?
I love Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs. Purses and shoes are kind of my thing! And sometimes I even get ideas for tiles from them. How a bag or shoe is structured is a type of product design that makes me wonder how a piece was created. Thinking about the design process for a purse makes me think differently about my tile design process. Some of my favorite interior designers are Dorothy Draper, Elsie de Wolfe, William Haines and Kelly Wearstler. These designers tend to have similar aesthetics to my personal style, which is Hollywood glamour with elements of sparkle. I get a lot of color palette, layering, pattern and finish inspiration from these designers.
Can you talk about the design process behind the Annie Selke for The Tile Shop collection?
We built a really great relationship with Annie after we saw how inspirational she is as a person. Being big fans of her fabrics and textiles, there was a great opportunity there to bring on a different kind of tile product. The design process was truly a collaboration of two different realms of expertise. (Note: See Brandy in action talking about the collection here or read more about it on our blog post.)
Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?
Product design wasn’t something I set out to do. It came naturally to me but it takes a lot of work so my best advice is to work hard for what you want.
What has been the biggest perk of the job? I hear you get to travel a lot for work.
The Tile Shop has taken me to so many different countries, but Spain was my favorite. The relaxed culture and the history were the highlights. I love being immersed in history, and in Spain, it’s in the air. It’s something you can feel that doesn’t have to be explained.
THE FUN FIVE
What is your dream vacation?
A catamaran in the Mediterranean to hop around to different islands, Italy and Greece.
What are you streaming right now?
I love TV shows that make me think. Right now, I’m watching The Colony. It’s a post-apocalyptic show that explores what would happen if cell phones and electricity went away and asks what we would do if everything changed. (P.S. It’s on Netflix!)
What’s your favorite hobby when you’re not working?
Reading or painting.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
If you weren’t at The Tile Shop, what do you think your career would be?
I think I would be happy doing anything creative like making jewelry or selling my artwork. As long as I had a creative outlet, the job title wouldn’t matter.