Founder: Anna Rabinowicz
Location: New York City
“Created from the desire to bring warmth and natural inspiration into the home.”
1) Where do you find the inspiration for your work?
The behaviors, forms and structures of nature are the greatest inspiration for my designs. I keep inspirational artifacts on my desk in my studio – gems from a trip to the Minas Gerais region of Brazil, a knobby gourd from a pumpkin farm in New Jersey, a hand-carved elephant from New Delhi…
2) Tell us about your design process.
These days, my design process is often sparked by a new material or a new inspiration in nature. I spend a lot of time with the material itself or pages of research about the natural phenomena. I ruminate, then begin to sketch (with my 2 favorite black ink pens), developing my ideas through drawings. Then I pare down my ideas to my favorites, pull out a ruler to dimension the drawings…and move to CAD (computer aided design) to work out the proportions and details. After that begins the longest and most arduous part of the process – creation and testing of the prototypes, and then production.
3) How has your design process changed since you started?
My design process is more experimental than it was when I first began. The more that technology advances to make wild experimentation possible, the more that I learn about how complex designs can be produced, the more that these cross-continental manufacturing trials that I’m working on come to fruition, the more that impossible ideas somehow become possible….
4) What is your favorite material to work with?
I love to work with unexpected material intersections such as aluminum + stone; hand-fused glass + silicone + stone; and ceramic + stainless steel + hickory wood.
5) How does your personal style influence your brand/ company/ products, etc?
In the end, all of the pieces that I design for RabLabs must appeal to me in a fundamental way. Some speak to me more deeply – like the pieces based on my biological research on the sea fan. Others appeal to me from a purely material perspective. But all have a special twist that comes from my personal style, like a tiny molded detail of a vein form that I’ve been drawing over and over since I was in my 20’s – this appears in various guises in my work.
6) Where do you imagine you’ll take the company next?
My next steps for the company involve delving deeper into biological research. My upcoming area of focus is on bone structures and growth, and how this could influence the way that products are created. This development runs in parallel with the designs that I create from semi-precious stones combined with other materials – the latest effort is working with artisans in India to produce hand-made pieces with an incredible level of detail and craft.
7) Who would be a dream collaborator?
Probably Neri Oxman (of MIT) – the work that she does on algorithm-driven biological patterning is revolutionary.
8 ) What colors/ patterns are you drawn to right now?
I’m drawn to rich purples and velvety tones and textures – and soft, lush forms. Perhaps this is in reaction to the wild weather swings we are experiencing in NYC – these colors and textures seem comforting and enveloping.
9) How did you get started in this field/ industry?
I fell in love with the forms and textures of Antonio Gaudi’s unfinished church, Sagrada Familia, on a trip to Barcelona more than 20 years ago – climbing the spires at sunset, I was smitten! I studied Industrial Design at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, in Jerusalem for several years, then returned to the States to attend graduate school in Art and Engineering at Stanford University. That fantastic program gave me the foundation to deeply understand the needs of the people who use our products, and how to create pieces that (hopefully) truly resonate with people AND can be produced!
10) What’s one tip you would give to people getting into this business?
I would suggest, for young product designers, to work for a larger company for at least several years before going out on their own. I’d also suggest that, when starting a company, they join with someone with a business background – the complementary disciplines of design + business are often a very good match.