Featured Member – August 2012
Featured Member – August 2012
SPDG: What got you started in Surface Pattern Design?
SS: It’s sort of interesting that I wound up in surface pattern design at all given that I have a background in engineering and law. Although looking back, it should have been obvious that design was a better career choice for me: when I was an engineer, I was happiest drawing circuits in CAD programs; when I was a patent attorney, my favorite part of the job was figuring out and creating the images that helped describe inventions. After stepping back from patent law, I started painting furniture, creating accessories (hand-painted belt buckles), and creating embroidery art pieces. Textile design seemed like a natural next step. I find now that my prior background helps inform my designs, allowing me to produce designs that are harmonious and balanced.
RG: I actually started out as an artist. I enjoy making just about anything: ceramics, jewelry, painting, drawing, gardening, you name it. In college I immersed myself in lithography and woodblock printing. I was always attracted to creating repetition or a sense of rhythm in my images with lines or shapes and seeing how an image would look in multiple color palettes. A friend casually commented that my style might be good for textile design and that planted the seed to pursue it. It was a natural progression for my art and work.
SPDG: Tell us about Sarah & Ruby Design Studio.
SS/RG: In founding Sarah & Ruby Design Studio, we felt that the technology was in place and the time was right to move away from mass-produced fabrics and wallpapers toward something more customized for the individual. We feel there is a general trend towards personalized products and spaces. Think about smart-phones: so many people have them, yet each is personalized in a unique way. So for us, instead of having to design for “what will sell to the masses,” we have the freedom to create individual pieces that meet the personal design aesthetics of our clients. We’re further able to print our fabric and wallpaper in the United States, producing a quality product that’s also eco-friendly in that it generates very little waste of material, water, ink, and electricity.
Working together is also very rewarding. Not only is it fun but we are able to bounce ideas off of each other, give each other art direction, and influence each other to expand our creativity.
SPDG: Do you have a particular style or are you a jack/jill-of-all-trades?
SS/RG: We don’t work in a particular style. Instead we produce designs in a full range of styles to meet the interior design needs of our clients. However, both of us approach our designs in very different ways. Sarah tends to see every design as a puzzle while Ruby is much more free form. But working together has created an artistic balance that allows the strengths of both of us to shine through.
SPDG: What markets do you prefer to design for the most? (e.g. home dec, apparel, paper, tech)
SS/RG: Residential interiors!
SPDG: Do you design on the computer or by hand, or both?
SS/RG: There are some strokes and looks that just can’t be originally created on the computer, so we both make use of hand-painting. Yet, to get anything printed these days, it all has to end up in the computer! So we definitely approach our designs open to whatever works best for the end result we are trying to achieve, while always knowing that we will have to put it all into digital format (and in repeat too!).
SPDG: Who are your favorite surface pattern designers?
SS: Right now, I’m really liking Luli Sanchez. She has such a range, along with fabulous creativity, and I love her free approach. From the past though, I can’t help but admire Florence Broadhurst. She was so revolutionary for her time, and the fact that her designs are enjoying such a revival now is a testament to their timelessness.
RG: Ah, Sarah beat me to it! I adore Luli Sanchez’s work. Other current favorites include Kelly Wearstler and Sarah Bagshaw. I’ve always liked everything by E.A. Seguy, the wildness of Josef Frank’s designs, and the simplicity of Sonia Delaunay’s style.
SPDG: Do you have any advice for those who are interested in a surface pattern design career?
SS/RG: Don’t be afraid to experiment A LOT to find your unique style or “hand.”
It’s so helpful to have a partner or a network of other artists to critique your work and offer support.