Growing up with a father who was an architect and professor of theoretical descriptive geometry, Svetlana McCaw was influenced by shapes and patterns at an early age. Her interests stretch far-and-wide but at the heart of it all, she is a true artist. Among her latest endeavors, McCaw worked tirelessly to design and patent several tile patterns, which she is marketing to have produced. Contemporary Stone & Tile Design recently caught up with the designer to learn more about her background and the steps she has taken to realize her dream.    


CSTD: Tell us a little about yourself and how you initially got into designing tile patterns. 

SM: My interest in geometric patterns started in my childhood. My father was an architect who worked as college professor of theoretical descriptive geometry. He was passionate about this subject and even though he taught the same material for decades, he tried to make every lecture different and better every time. As he was preparing for his lectures, he was always trying to find the most beautiful geometric solution, that would amaze his students and make them fall in love with geometry. Finding beauty in geometry was something we talked about almost every day so that is how I started to get interested in drawing my own patterns. I remember that once I had to draw some patterns in math class in grade two or three of elementary school. When my teacher saw my work, she threw my notebook on the ground and accused me of submitting someone else’s work. I said: “But I drew this myself.” She then made me sit in front of entire class and draw it again to prove I could do it.


CSTD: Where do you find inspiration for your designs? 

SM: My background is very unique. I am both a designer in interior design field and I hold an engineering degree and Master’s Degree in wood processing. I work as a furniture and millwork estimator and specifier and my job is to find the best way to adjust custom furniture designs to my employer’s manufacturing capabilities. In every project I do, my main goal is to create furniture design solution that is aesthetically pleasing, while being simple to manufacture and most economical and therefore price competitive for our customers.

In my free time, I pursue my hobbies: playing piano, painting landscapes in acrylic paint and taking art photographs. Processing photos in Adobe Lightroom is something I do daily, looking for best composition, color harmony and lighting. 


CSTD: Please briefly explain the process of having a pattern patented. 

SM: It is a very long process that requires patience and determination. As a designer, I felt I was alone in this. I had no friends, family members or coworkers who could give me any tips on how to navigate the legal world of patents. I would like to add, as an individual applying for a patent, you need to be ready to be your own accountant, legal assistant, project manager and graphic designer! Or you have to pay tens of thousands of dollars for these services. I was lucky I could draw engineering drawings and presentation drawings myself and I am also good with math and technical writing!

First step for me was reading books about patents. Next step was contacting a patent lawyer for a consultation. The lawyer advised that this process could take seven to ten years to complete! He advised that if there are related designs, all applications must be filed at once. He also pointed me in the right direction in the process of selecting what designs to submit as I had too many! So with the help of my lawyer, I filed seven applications for registered industrial design with Canadian Intellectual Property Office. After a long wait, and several small revisions, I finally got a response from Canadian Intellectual Property Office that all seven designs were approved and granted the status of registered industrial design. After this I submitted the design patent application for all seven designs in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. And all seven were approved!


CSTD: How many patterns do you currently have patented? 

SM: I have:

  • Five registered tile designs in Canada
  • Two registered wallpaper designs in Canada
  • Five design patents for tile in the U.S.
  • Two design patents for wallpaper in the U.S.
  • Five copyrights in Canada
  • One copyright in the U.S. (latest copyright was approved in May 2023)


CSTD: What are some reasons you enjoy working with tile? 

SM: Drawing tile patterns is more than a hobby to me. I would doodle geometric patterns on napkins while waiting for a meal at the restaurant, or I would think of new patterns in the evening while in bed, waiting to fall asleep. When I start drawing patterns, two hours can fly by in a blink of an eye.

I also find that all my hobbies are connected and they all draw inspiration in nature. Good example of this is that while I was waiting for the Canadian Intellectual Property Office to respond to my patent applications, I created a piece of art titled: Waiting for Good News. It describes how excited I was about the prospect of getting my designs registered.  I would eagerly wait for the mailman to arrive every morning to see if there is any mail from the patent office. Here is a photo of that painting. 


CSTD: What are some points you would like potential distributors to know about your work? 

SM: These tile designs are based on simple geometric shapes, like circles and ellipses and that is what makes these designs clean and easy to turn into a mass-produced item. By rotating the individual tiles, numerous beautiful composite patterns can be created and the homeowners or business owners that purchase the tiles, could become artists themselves and make their own floor designs by rotating the tiles in their own desired way.  Or suppliers could prepare a computer app, making a map of different tile rotations to achieve different patterns using a single tile. There is such a variety of patterns awaiting to be discovered! I have not seen any tile design currently on the market that makes so many composite patterns!


CSTD: Is there anything else you would like to share? 

SM: I am currently trying to find a tile manufacturer based in Canada or the U.S. who would be interested in licensing these designs, and I wanted to thank you, Mrs. Richinelli, for this opportunity to show my work so that the right manufacturer can see it and recognize its potential.