Brooklyn, N.Y.—In New York ‘s free-spirited but revered arts/fashion/design community, the name Allison Eden is synonymous with mosaic glass artistry. For the better part of the last 30 years, her dazzling, intricate, one-of-a-kind works of art have graced all manner of surfaces—from custom backsplashes and eye-catching wall accent pieces in high-end homes and commercial spaces, to high-profile retail applications and several well-known hospitality and entertainment establishments.
Now, Eden and her namesake design studio is taking the next logical step by applying scores of her signature designs and instantly recognizable creations to the so-called “fifth” wall: the floor. For this initiative, she has partnered with several specialty manufacturers covering a variety of materials—including stone, ceramic tile and, yes, sheet vinyl—to produce several Allison Eden-branded collections.
“I always wanted to do floors,” Eden told Floor Covering News, noting that she has, in the past, tread carefully when recommending mosaic glass for floor applications. “I always tell our clients that our mosaic glass materials are not ‘floor rated.’ We’ve done many floors in mosaic glass, but when we have we tend to use smaller pieces with grout in between. Look, life’s too short to not have what you want. If you want to have a disco ball floor, then put the disco ball floor down there.”
Eden practices what she preaches. She installed a similar sparkling design on the floor in her own home when her kids were young. “They rode their Big Wheels right over the mosaic glass, and the floor was fine,” she recalled. “Twenty-plus years later it’s still fine.”
Thanks to the new partnerships, Eden has taken any potential concerns that clients might have in using glass “mosaic-inspired” designs right out of the equation. She is working with a specialty supplier on a stunning new stone collection, and she is also collaborating with Los Angeles-based Arto Brick on a ceramic tile offering. Graphic Image Flooring, a U.S. supplier specializing in custom luxury vinyl products, has replicated dozens of Eden’s signature whimsical designs for the inaugural Allison Eden Studios Flooring Collection. Separately, Eden has also inked a deal with Akdo on an all-glass decorative mosaics line (Botanicals by Allison Eden), which will make its debut at Coverings later this month.
Each supplier Eden has teamed up with has the capability to scan her designs using sophisticated digital printing technology. Furthermore, as bonafide manufacturers in their own right, they can handle all the complex production details to ensure the products meet all relevant specifications as far as performance, durability and installation are concerned. For her part, Eden is charged with selecting the standout designs from the treasure trove of patterns she has created over the past three decades.
“I have 30 years of signature patterns—things I have made dating back to the 90s,” Eden—a self-proclaimed “glass snob”—said. “I have all the originals and hand drawings of those designs, so I can license them out, keep my ownership of them and still have someone else reproduce them on the floor. We can’t cut flooring at our design studio and, quite frankly, I really don’t want to be on the manufacturing end of the business.”
That separation allows Eden and her team of 14 skilled artists to do what they do best: create inspiring designs. But make no mistake—it’s not as easy as it sounds. Whereas some artists utilize computer-assisted design tools to create custom images, everything at Allison Eden Studios is all done manually—no power tools or machinery. That includes sketching the patterns on which the glass mosaic designs are based as well as cutting the delicate but oh-so-sharp glass shards. While it’s a labor of love for Eden, it’s also a labor-intensive, time-consuming endeavor. “We’re not pushing bottles down a conveyor belt here; we do it all by hand,” she explained. “That’s why the process takes so long.”
The glass cutting/shaping techniques employed by the designers at Allison Eden Studios are based on practices dating back more than a century. “We make our mosaics the same way that Louis Comfort Tiffany made his mosaics,” Eden explained, paying homage to the late American artist and designer who is best known for his groundbreaking work in stained glass and is often associated with the Art Nouveau and Aesthetic movements.
For Allison Eden Studios, it’s more than just a coincidental connection. As Gary Goldstein, Eden’s husband and shop manager, explained: “When you see a million-dollar Tiffany lampshade at the Cooper Hewitt/Smithsonian Design Museum or the New York Historical Society, it’s the same glass we’re using.”
When training new artisans—some of whom have worked with her for more than a decade—Eden invokes that same time-honored glass cutting tradition in her instructional approach. But it’s not necessarily her way or the highway, so to speak. “We’ve all learned together over the course of 20-plus years,” Eden explained. On occasion, she also takes on select students to teach them the ins and outs of the glass-cutting trade. “I also teach them job skills and how to be conscientious of others they work with.”
Ultimately, for Eden, it’s about creative expression and doing what you love. “To employ 14 people to make artwork all day long in New York City is such a beautiful thing,” she added. “New York was once the mecca for manufacturing; what we do here is creative manufacturing. I can stay in my city, be creative and employ other people who love to do what I do. The world is in a weird place right now, and I truly believe what we’re doing here every day makes people happy.”
Look for some of Allison Eden’s new collections at booth # 4416 at Coverings 2023, April 18-21, in Orlando.