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Jennifer Farrell
A leading woman in the design and flooring industry
Bart Bettiga
NTCA Executive Director
One-to-One with Bart Bettiga
In the One-to-One column, NTCA Executive Director Bart Bettiga interviews industry leaders about pertinent topics.
I met Jennifer Farrell several years ago at The International Surface Event (TISE) in Las Vegas. Farrell is the owner of Jennifer Farrell Designs, and you can find her all over the internet and multiple television platforms.
I quickly determined that Farrell had a real passion for the versatility and functionality of ceramic tile. For many years, I have been intent on the importance of promoting the value of both design and installation in a successful tile project. Farrell understood this angle, and we have subsequently worked together several times over the years. Farrell has provided important design considerations for ceramic tile, and the NTCA Training Team has offered installation education plus standards and methods awareness.
In 2024, we are excited to announce a partnership with Farrell, CTDA member Louisville Tile, and NTCA. We will be offering three design and installation workshops in August of this year at Louisville Tile locations. As a strong woman leader and voice in the flooring and design industry, I was thrilled to catch up with her for a One-to-One conversation for our Women in Tile Issue.
How were you able to build such a successful design business and parlay that into such an internet and television presence? I opened my firm 23 years ago in Southern California and I was fortunate to be in the right place and right time. I joined a show called Merge 21 years ago as a series regular. This was right when the Home Makeover TV world was exploding. It helped springboard my company and the television presence has continued to grow. I am on television 365 days a year now, so this has been great for my business.
I have a business structure that I like to call a triangle. There is my television presence and my design business, and these two components meet at brand partnerships. This has been important to me in that my business is diverse enough to handle shifts in the economy.
In supporting your brand partnerships, you create show homes like Calibu Vineyard. How does this work? We build a whole media campaign around designing a show home, and I can utilize all three components of my business triangle throughout this process. Calibu Vineyard was a two-year ongoing media and marketing experience in a show home environment. I partnered with TISE, and together we brought in dozens of luxury partner brands. I created the design, and you then see this come to fruition from design concepts to construction and installation.
Through a developing partnership between Jennifer Farrell Designs, The International Surface Event and dozens of luxury brand partners, Calibu Vineyard, a two-year ongoing media and marketing experience in a show home environment was created.
What is next on the horizon for you now that Calibu Vineyard is wrapping up? We just launched our newest show home at TISE called I.C.E. House (Interconnected Changeable Environments), and we will start this process again. Both Calibu Vineyard and I.C.E. Houses are in the beautiful Santa Monica Mountain area of Southern California. The concept behind I.C.E. is that you never have to change your home; the home changes with you. The home is adaptable, and you can utilize the spaces in different ways as your lifestyle and family changes over the years. It is really the home of 2030 and beyond in that it encompasses adaptability, sustainability, and livability into one fabulous residence. Ceramic tile will be used in many areas of the home in both interior and exterior applications.
Farrell recently launched her newest show home called I.C.E. House (Interconnected Changeable Environments), an innovative new home concept that changes over the years to encompass adaptability, sustainability, and livability as one’s lifestyle and family changes over the years.
We are excited here at NTCA to partner with you and Louisville Tile for a design and installation educational program. We will be at Louisville Tile locations in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Nashville in August. Tell us what people can expect at these events. I am so excited to partner with NTCA and Louisville Tile on this program. There is a disconnect between designers and the concepts that they create, and installers on what can physically be done during the installation process. The manufacturers and distributors get caught in the middle. Our goal in these events is to bridge that gap and start the communication early. We will call it Tile Design Trends and the Installation Techniques that Every Industry Pro Must Know. We are inviting architects, designers, specifiers, builders, remodelers, general contractors, and all tile industry people to these programs. They will be held at Louisville Tile locations in three key metropolitan markets in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Nashville. This is a concept that you and I talked about several years ago and thanks to Louisville Tile we are making it happen.
What do you see as trends developing in the tile industry? Dimensional tile has been a big movement in the last few years and that is going to stay. One important element I see evolving is that because of the way that tiles are being manufactured and designed now, grout is moving into the forefront of telling the tile story. I think grout has been devalued in the past, and we now need to accept these products as part of the design. The conversation needs to take place as to what grout, why, and what type of grout needs to be used. A lot of the tiles being manufactured require larger grout joints and that movement is coming. Grout manufacturers have a lot of options for us to consider in colors, metallics, etc. and we will need to educate designers on these options so the proper type of grout -- as well as color and style – are chosen for the appropriate tile.
NTCA is proud of our efforts to promote women in tile. As a leading woman in the flooring and design industry, what advice can you offer to young women today who might be thinking about a career in design or construction? Just today I was asked by someone about what movement do I see that is changing in the floor covering industry. And without sounding genderist, my response was that women are getting so much more involved in all aspects of a flooring or tile business. How that affects us as a community ties into what we are doing in our program with NTCA. Women help us drive the flooring industry from a design perspective as well as from a build or construction angle. This helps our industry in so many ways.
To young women today I would say the installation aspect of our business is ripe for the picking. We desperately need smart, creative, business-driven and empowered people to enter the installation community. There are incredible career opportunities here and there is no reason why women can’t be a part of this.