Rediscovering tile work with Shadé Akanbi

A fantastic interview with a fantastic designer

By Clay Imports

Shadé Akanbi, the visionary behind Clay Imports' captivating new Daedream Series ventured to Clay SMA, our ceramics studio in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico to create this fantastic, African inspired collection. Through her adventures, she masterfully captured the essence of tile making, a new material for the Creative Director and Designer of Printed Pattern People. We had a chance to talk to her about this new collection, her experience with clay and all the secrets behind her creative process.

The background of Shadé Akanbi

Raised in The Bay Area of California, Shadé credits her Nigerian-American upbringing and extensive international travels as her main creative influences for designing. From her Brooklyn home, Shadé currently creates work for several brands at a time, while cultivating an ever-growing global textile collection filled with influential prints, patterns and colors.

Designer Shadé Akanbi

"My personal world, from childhood to present day, has always been multicultural and my passion for creating a global fusion lifestyle and brand has only been nurtured by my love and appreciation for art and design”

Working with Clay

Shadé’s expertise in textiles is unquestionable and we feel proud of being not only the tilemakers she decided to work with for her first time designing in clay, but as well as being one of the first artists to experience the product development immersive design experience at our Clay SMA Studio. As Shadé says: “Learning the process of how tiles are made, like, literally from the earth, we're taking something that feels very natural, that is very natural and making it into something beautiful”.

And beautiful is an understatement. This collection is one of the most heavy handmade tiles we have done to date and the process behind its creation is full of African native references.

Designer Shadé Akanbi

“All of these tile motifs are inspired by different places that I've traveled to, places that I've lived. Seeing [my artwork] in a new, fresh way on these tiles it's all part of my dream and so the collection is called the Daedream series”

Building Daedream Series

Daedream series is one of the most versatile collections we have available, and this is by design, as versatility and accessibility are important aspects for Shadé: “When given the option by Clay Imports, I decided to go with two options of production styles. I think something being more accessible is better than being exclusive and I love that the bigger 8” x 8” printed tiles can be used for [projects] like flooring. And then you have the glossy finish of the Relief tiles, which is just so beautiful, the handcraft feel of everything. And I can totally see that in, like, hospitality spaces and restaurants and I'm excited for people to have options for both”.

Designer Shadé Akanbi

“Part of my design aesthetic is showing people elements of traditional Nigerian motifs or African motifs all over but in a new way”

The African cultural references are one of the most important aspects Shadé tries to incorporate in all her works, because according to Shadé: “People associate a lot of ethnic design with things that are, like, rustic and rural and sometimes the connotation of that is ‘oh well it's a little dingy’, which is not the case at all! I think things that are handmade and aged are so beautiful and have so much rich history in them, so it's just about continuing to pass along the history in my art”.

And we couldn’t agree more: design, functionality and durability are aspects that should always be in balance, especially for tiles, and being able to work with someone who values these characteristics is destined to make a timeless product, full of history and significance.

Designer Shadé Akanbi

“I decided to work with Clay Imports because I felt like their ethos and what I strive to do would be a great match in my own creativity. Clay Imports helped me create artwork that would be most impactful and still not lose any integrity in the artwork or what I stand for”

Don’t miss the chance to check out the Daedream Series and feel the passion Shadé has imprinted in the collection. You can keep up with Shadé both on her instagram profile or the Printed Pattern People account. And remember, if you have any questions or know an artist who will make a perfect new collection, don't hesitate to reach out to us at or chat with us here.