We’re always on the look out for cool statement pieces to make our wedding registries’ pop and these unique designs by RabLabs’ Anna New York are just that. We reached out to the designer, Anna Rabinowicz, for a behind-the-scenes Q + A all about these incredible registry must-haves. And of course, her answers are as interesting as her work.
How did you learn to start making home products?
I’ve always been interested in the intersection of science and art. I began designing prosthetic knees and devices for cardiac bypass surgery and this love of biology and nature segued into my company today. I focused on natural materials and biological inspiration, first with our geode coasters and expanded from there. How did I actually learn? Through great amounts of research into each material I work with, often inventing the process to manipulate the components in a new way. Take the Espera collection, for example, inspired by a sea fan that I found in my father’s study, which led me on a multi-year academic research project to examine the properties and behaviors of this natural organism and mimic them in our beautiful bowls, each unique with over 4500 holes once complete.
What is the process for making an individual piece?
After the initial research and sketches, I travel the world to find artisans who can produce the vision of each piece. For agate and crystals our artisans are in Brazil and for the alabaster pieces in the latest collection I found the last remaining Tuscany alabaster quarry and an artisan with a multi-generational history of working with this stone and the quarry from which it was taken. Through deep relationships with these craftspeople, encouraging them to build upon their abilities and suggesting imaginative production techniques, we work together to develop new ways to create objects. One of the things I’m most proud of is helping them grow their own business alongside ours. Each piece we make has a very different creation process. The Tondo bowls for example are hand carved and take up to two days to produce. Other pieces combine hand craftsmanship with machine work, such as our Kiva collection, which is made of polished, semi-precious gemstones, electroplated with 24K gold and silver.
What is the most challenging piece to make and why?
Each piece has its own challenges, but a recent one was the Ilumina candlesticks. These took two years of development working with groups of artisans in two different counties until we succeeded. The challenge is that the spheres are made by hand – originally by an artisan who works without electricity so he made holes in them with a water-powered drill, twisting the drill bit back and forth in his hands to make the holes. This means that in order for the candlesticks to stand up and stay straight, the metal pieces need to be able to accommodate spheres that are all slightly different sizes and shapes. So, we had to develop a complex mechanism which is hidden in the base of the candleholder in order to accommodate the hand-made stone spheres. It is a classic example of the designs in our line – pieces which look effortlessly simple and elegant, but actually involve years of development and innovation.
Where do you get your inspiration from for new pieces?
I’m often inspired by nature, whether it’s the materials I come across or the shapes found all around us. For me this latest collection is about subtle collisions – bringing together soft, lush colors, and bold finishes. I have been obsessed with precision, and creating crisp edges and precise junctions between the materials and my designs. My hope is that people will be moved by these pieces and will feel the emotion behind the designs when they hold them in their hands. We have a chance to really enhance and positively change people’s lives, creating ways for them to build memories and to create unique experiences. Nothing could be more inspirational than that.
Click here to shop the collection.
Images || (headshot) Bonnie Tsang, (products) John Muggenborg.