Sarah Schwartz and Ruby Geisler may come from polar opposite backgrounds, but piffle – it makes no difference.
They met in 2008 in a California textile design school – Schwartz had studied law and engineering, while Geisler was an artist. Today, as Sarah and Ruby Design Studio, they’re melding their sense of style – in both art and artisanship. “Sarah had a great idea to start this design business, and find our way together,” Geisler says.
“We launched our wallpaper line a year ago – we focus on hand-drawn design and the artisan process,” Schwartz says. “They all start with a hand-drawn element, not a computer screen.”
They’re also working in cement tile, and are part of San Francisco-based clé’s new Artist Cement Collection, along with clé founder and ceramic tile guru Deborah Osburn and nine others. Schwartz’s and Geisler’s work stands out, for its bold, color-drenched palette, its nature-influenced patterns and its geometry of shape and design.
“All our designs are graphic but there’s an inexact hand-rendered effect as well, and geometric patterns that are softened – they’re informed by the organic but they’re abstractions of the organic,” Geisler says. “There’s a reference to leaves and flowers but it’s inexact – an organic sense of geometry in nature.”
There’s also a pleasing sense of proportion at play – with an informal reference to the golden ratio. “For us it developed naturally we’re trained to do all patterns of design, but we wanted bold and modern and also easy – for all our design styles,” Schwartz says. “The golden ratio underlies it whether we realize it or not.”
And there’s an appreciation for the random nature of the tile-making process. “We understand the limitations of the manufacturing process and that you get a different kind of design that what you expected,” Geisler says. “We do a lot of experimenting – we do different patterns and narrow them down.”
It all adds up to an unusual mingling of art, artisanship, engineering and the law.