It all started with Gudrun. Immigrating to California from Denmark with her husband in the mid 50’s, Kristian and Gudrun settled in the little town of La Jolla California she brought the love of Danish design and exquisite craftsman ship with her. Taking up ceramics at the La Jolla Museum of Modern Art in 1965, her sculptural pieces were a standout, always celebrating architectural structure but acknowledging the mark of the hand.
Her curiosity, work ethic, restraint, and fearlessness set the standard for what Kibak Tile is today. In 2018 at 94 years old Gudrun “officially retired” from painting tile, although she continues to be an integral member of the Kibak team and visits the studio almost daily.
Susanne had a history with ceramics long before founding Kibak Tile in 1981. The genesis of the idea is traced back to her childhood, when her mother set up a pottery studio in their backyard. Susanne’s mother, Gudrun bought a giant gas kiln with a friend and as a child Susanne spent countless hours making and firing pots with her mother on their old ranch in Sorrento Valley, California. Gudrun’s accomplishments as a hand builder coupled with Susanne’s exposure to the original Malibu Tile, and Catalina Tile, tiles that were an integral part of the classic architecture so common in Southern California fostered a love and appreciation of design, integrity, and a clean aesthetic that inspired Susanne to pursue and acquire a degree in Ceramics from UC Santa Cruz.
After graduating, Susanne relocated to Central Oregon with the grand plan to travel to Italy and study with an artist working on large ceramic sculptures for public spaces. To get there she started making and selling tile. The building boom going on in Central Oregon helped launch Susanne’s career as a tile-maker, as people in the area began asking her to make murals for their bathrooms and kitchens. Before long, making tile was more than a ticket to Italy, it was 1981 and Kibak Tile was a bonafide business. For decades the Kibak Tile line was sold exclusively through Ann Sacks where we earned a reputation of product mastery, swift delivery, as well as of genuinely interested team players and collaborators.
Carli has not known a day without Kibak Tile. As a very little girl she tricycled around the studio like a little cyclone. At age 4 she helped by answering the phone “Kibak Tile, how may I direct your call?”. In High School she started hand-painting tiles and fell in love with the process, glazes, and infinite designs.
After graduating from Seattle University and traveling the world for several years, Carli found herself…. Re-joining Gudrun and Susanne at Kibak Tile. Injecting a fresh enthusiasm and current point of view, Carli’s command of product knowledge/development, and committed outreach, promise more innovation and excellence from this tile company in the future.