In the early 1990s, Allison Eden was attending the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), majoring in fashion, when she discovered her true love for interior design. After school one day, she was walking through Greenwich Village and stumbled across a quirky store selling all things glass, from lamps to wall fixtures, when her creative juices began flowing.
“I walked in and bought a couple of things, one of which I thought would be beautiful as a wallpaper or on a wall,” Eden explained. “This was about 30 years ago, when nobody was doing glass work. I had this vision that this glass piece would be really beautiful as a mosaic on a wall. I glued it onto a board and walked into a tile store, showed them my idea and they loved it. They asked me to do a vignette, so I did, and that’s when it all began.”
After such success with her first tile job, Eden was inspired to open her own tile studio after she graduated FIT to try her hand in the tile trade. “I took ads out in the yellow pages and everything,” she said. “I marketed myself as an interior designer and fashioner designer, who did tilework. Soon after, I got a call from a local Burger King, which was opening a restaurant in three weeks and needed to do a Brazilian wave-tiled floor. After that job, I figured I could
After discovering her true passion for tilework, Eden opened her own studio in Brooklyn, NY. “At a tradeshow, I made a tiled table for an insurance exhibitor, and from that job, I got the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, which needed 60 tiled tables,” she said. “We would come in when the building closed at night and we would make the tables in the stairwells.
“From there, I learned that people really liked glass and I loved it, so I learned how to cut it by hand,” the designer went on to explain. “We don’t use any machinery to create our tiles; we do it all by hand. I absolutely love my medium. I love cutting it. I think the colors are brilliant.”
Now, about 30 years later, Eden owns and operates Allison Eden Studios in Brooklyn, NY, one of the country’s leading glass tile suppliers for commercial and interior decor. Her in-house design team, which creates and installs all of the custom-made mosaics, has more than 40 years of collective experience, creating unique tile patterns and artwork for a wide range of projects.
With around 90 customized tile patterns readily available for install, Eden is continuously devising new tile designs to offer her clients. “I love creating new things,” she said. “I’m in 500 tile stores throughout the country and all of them have different patterns. I try to offer a variation. We manufacturer and source everything made in the U.S. — nothing comes from anywhere else. We’re very proud of that. It’s sad to say we’re one of the only ones left.
“I’m always trying to change things and make them different and fun,” she added. “So crazy so no one wants to replicate them.”
With an eclectic design portfolio, Eden lands a lot of interesting jobs, including one of her most recent ventures in downtown Manhattan, where she was enlisted to create a larger-than-life high heel replica for a Bloomindale’s display. “My friend owns Urban Bling, which customizes shoes, handbags and other accessories,” she said. “I paint the shoes to the colors I want and she bedazzles them with crystals. So I said, ‘Why don’t we do a high heel with crystals and matching handbag?’ I made it for Bloomingdale’s and then they said they wanted to carry a line of shoes to go with my mosaic.”
The tiled high heel, which stands 6-feet-high and stretches 11-feet-long, is the centerpiece of the display, featuring more than a dozen different-colored tiles in various shapes and sizes. “It took around two months to complete (six to eight weeks). I was trying to work on it when I could, piece by piece,” Eden said. “I covered the inside with my fabric. We also have fabric, carpeting and wallpaper now, which are digitally printed versions of my mosaics. I take pics of my mosaics and turn them into fabric.”
When designs are three-dimensional, Eden explained how they take longer to create than regular mosaics, but this particular project didn’t present any unusual challenges. “It was perfect, very easy going,” she said.
Since the high heel’s completion, Bloomingdale’s was in such awe that they had Eden and her team create another art piece for the perfume department. “I did a huge perfume bottle, which stands 10-feet-tall,” she said. “It’s a replica of Tom Ford’s perfume — four sides of diamonds — in the entryway to the store. It was the very first piece that they brought through the front door. It was a big deal because nothing has ever come through the front door in the history of Bloomingdale’s.
“They are so supportive of me. They are wonderful,” the designer continued. “I thank them every single day. They want to keep New York art alive. It’s hard being an artist. Even in the tile business, it’s not steady because everything is so up and down now.”
Although the tile business has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Eden remains optimistic, with unique jobs still coming her way. “They’re [Bloomingdale’s] always giving me projects, mostly in New York because it’s the flagship store,” she said. “I do their Christmas windows, too. I love what I do. I think that tile is an art in itself.”
New York, NY
Tile Designer/Supplier/Installer: Allison Eden Studios, Brooklyn, NY