Q and A with Tina Frey Designs

We had the chance to chat with Tina Frey and get some insight on her and her successful company, Tina Frey Designs. Inspired by nature and travels, Frey designs and hand sculpts each art piece with clay in San Francisco to produce raw, imperfect shapes. Her team of artisans then makes a mold from the masterpiece before casting the final objects in small batches of resin. Since we started carrying the her line in 2015, we’ve gotten a lot of interest in her work that seems quite unlike anything else on the market today.

Tina Frey

Q: How did you get the idea to start Tina Frey Designs, and what was your background before?

A: I had always been very creative my whole life and I always liked to draw, sew, sculpt, or make things.  It never occurred to me that this could be my career so when I went to university, I got my degree in science (biology major and chemistry minor!), followed by my business degree, and became a CPA, followed by a successful career in finance.  In 2007, I was at a point in my career and life that I felt I needed to pursue this path of creativity before it was too late.  Tina Frey Designs was founded since I never stopped dreaming about it and we are almost up to our 10 year anniversary soon!

Tina Frey

Q: The designs draw inspiration from nature as well as treasures found during your travels. What is one of your favorite stories behind a design?

A: Many of my sculpted designs have soft rounded edges. This is similar to the rocks or drift wood that you find at the ocean when you walk along the beach. There is a nice secluded beach north of Bolinas that I love.  I like picking up these pieces since I find them very beautiful and inspiring.  This influences my designs when I sculpt since I like the softness of the edges that has been created by the nature and the sea.

Tina Frey

Q: After you get an idea for a design, you hand sculpt it from clay before it is made into a mold for casting. How much can a design change from what is in your mind to what you end up creating with your hands?

A: This can vary depending on what I am trying to make.  Often, I already have a strong idea in my mind of what I would like to make and it is really easy to translate it to the three dimensional clay form.  Sometimes, I try different things and keep making different versions and it can take weeks, or longer.  When I sculpt the correct shape, it just feels right immediately as I am sculpting and I feel very satisfied when I reach that point.  The pieces are made with the idea of seeing them together with the existing pieces in the collection, and also has to be able to be a stand alone on its own.

Tina Frey

Q: The resin used to create the pieces is shatter-resistant, outdoor-friendly and food-safe. What is the most creative use for a Tina Frey piece that you have seen or implemented yourself?

A: I found it very interesting to make furniture with the resin.  In the collection, I have a 3 legged side table, 3 legged milking stool, short bench, long bench, and coffee table.  I like experimenting with the larger pieces to discover how to actually make them since this can get technical and I like the challenge.  Each leg of the furniture is embedded with a metal rod which is cast with it inside and hidden from view on the outside.  This allows the piece to still have the same overall soft sculpted look and feel.  The legs of the furniture have strength but it is not visible from the outside due to the production process.

Tina Frey

Q: In Anthology magazine’s tour of your home, we spotted an Aalto tray, an Eames bird, and a Saarinen Tulip table. What’s one other iconic design that has always been on your wish list?

A: 1)  Fritz Hansen PK80 Daybed, 2)  Martinelli Luce Pipistrelle Lamp, 3)  Serge Mouille 2 Arm Wall Lamp

Tina Frey

Q: You’ve said that the bright colors and simple designs of Marimekko, like Maija Isola’s Unikko pattern, are inspiring to you. What other designers and artists inspire you?

A: I love the shapes from furniture designer Nanna Ditzel.  The simplicity and shape of the Hanging Egg Chair is perfection.  Of course many of her other furniture and jewelry designs are also beautiful with the graceful lines and simple rounded forms and shapes.

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