In our “clé conversations” series, we recently sat down with Natalie Myers, the owner and design principal of Veneer Designs in Los Angeles. Natalie gave us a peek into what moves her as a designer, her mental inventory of the newest ideas, and why if “every blogger and their babysitter” is into a style, she wants nothing to do with it.
Natalie was an early proponent of our thin glazed brick.
Inside Tile Design with Natalie Myers
clé: As a designer, how do you see your role in helping clients find the absolute right design for their homes and spaces?
Natalie: I think for a lot of people, it’s about trust. Trust in my work, my recommendations. I don't really have to explain things to clients or walk them through it. They know they don't really have a sense of what looks good, which is why they hired me, but they want their houses to look good. I don't have to explain to them why it looks good. They just trust that all the elements work together, and when it's installed, it's going to be awesome.
clé: And how do you gain that trust?
Natalie: For designers who are just starting out, I do think it's probably much harder to gain the trust of a client because they're thinking, “Well, how do I know? How do I know that you know what you're doing?” But at this point I feel like I've earned that credibility--just from turning over enough projects with the same consistent level of service and quality--that my work speaks for itself. I don't have to prove it or earn it.
I also just know a lot of makers and shops, and I know which ones deliver and which ones don't. The ones that don't, I'd never use again, obviously. So I end up using the same vendors over and over again. They make me look good, and then my portfolio looks good. It’s at that level where clients just look at your past work and everything looks seamless.
Thin glazed brick on a fireplace hearth to give texture and color contrast to a classic mid-century design.
clé: Design is constantly changing, often rapidly. How do you stay on top of what’s next in trends?
Natalie: I always look for things that are different from what everyone else is doing in the market, because I want to set the trends. I don't want to be chasing or following the trends. I want to be the first one to come up with this combination or that color palette that people haven't been doing yet. That's my focus--to give my clients something original and unique.
When something catches my eye, I try to keep a running mental list of different products I would use on a project. Whether it's lighting or tile or stone, I keep track of what vendors are putting out there, what their new collections are. Then I have a mental file of cool products I want to find a project for. I hope that project comes along where I can use this cement tile on a backsplash, or I can use this stone in a bar. And then when that project does come along, I already know what I want to use. It makes for a speedier and more intuitive design development phase.
clé: With social media, there are a lot of design “outlets” available to people. How do you wade through that mentality? That what they see might not be a good fit for their project?
Natalie: For a lot of us, as we scroll through Instagram, it's just same, same, same. It’s boring and everyone seems “inspired” by everybody else. Everyone’s designs start looking exactly the same. Once I see ideas or concepts that are everywhere, I'm over it.
I try to break out of that and do my own thing and not follow what everyone else is doing. I feel like I can look at a lot of designers' work and know, “Oh, they got this here, that there, this is from this place.” I know where they sourced it. But I want people to be like, “Where'd you get that? Where did you get that?” I want them to really have a hard time figuring it out. I guess that's a little game I like to play. I'm always trying to look for the next best thing; the coolest, newest, forward-thinking material or combination or color palette.
clé: What is your particular equation for knowing what will work in a client’s space?
Natalie: My goal with all my designs is for them to feel timeless. I don't want someone in five years to go, “Oh, that was done in 2020.” Twenty years from now I want for somebody to think, “That was done in 2020, but it’s still super fresh and topical for our time.”
I also try to stay away from the “trendy.” You go to these trade shows and they’re all trying to get your attention with what they consider the newest, coolest thing. Even if I actually do like it, I also know it's going to feel very dated, very quickly, so I'm not going to install it. Because I don't want my clients to regret having installed tile and want to rip it out in a couple of years. I know how much my clients spend on remodels and installations, it's not cheap. But it's not just the cost per square foot of the tile. It's the labor cost to install that tile. Some collections, like zellige, require quite a bit of prep before installation. It's all a commitment, obviously. So it has to be timeless.
In this neutral space, Natalie uses a small amount of color and pattern, to create a visual impact
clé: When you’re thinking about projects, what makes you turn to clé?
Natalie: There are a few reasons, actually. I talked about how I like to be the one setting the trends, not following them, and I think clé does that really well. They’re really good about forecasting what designers want. Their products are forward thinking and they capture a trend before everybody in the world is doing it. Whether it’s the deep colors of their glazed liberty brick collection or the very old-world authenticity of unglazed antique terracotta.
But, they also understand the difference between trend and trendy. If something is on every shelf in Home Depot, and in stock; if it's available on a mass level, then it's just not as interesting anymore. If every blogger and their babysitter is into it, I don't want it. But if it’s more unique and harder to get, and you have to wait 12 weeks for them to make your batch or you get to instruct the colors that are being created, it’s much more special and less universally applied.
Plus, their quality is really good. I know that if I use clé products, I'm not going to be disappointed once installed. My clients won’t be disappointed, either. And, of course, their products are just really beautifully made. I’m always looking for what they’re coming out with next.
(L) Using a monochrome palette Natalie focusses on pattern to create a strong visual design
(R) Color blocking on the floor creates a visual punch.
More about Natalie:
Natalie offers a detailed and highly organized strategic approach to any sized project. She spent a decade developing her expertise in interior design and construction project management in the corporate sector, working in-house for LPA Architecture, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Cushman & Wakefield.
Nine years after starting her own firm, her ambition remains to bring her vision of uniquely California inspired modern interiors sensibly to residential and commercial spaces. Her professionalism and passion for the design process lend itself well to ensuring the project is a success with a proven track record.
What sets Natalie apart from other designers is her natural design talent coupled with a detailed understanding of the construction process. She can not only create an organized unique design plan but also oversee its implementation to completion. A reverence for architectural history, an appreciation for the natural environment, and an awareness of current design innovations mark an award-winning Veneer Designs project.
Natalie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design from Cornell University and is a LEED accredited professional. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two young children where her eye is restlessly scanning the environment for any and all design inspiration moments.