I’ve spotted Tina Frey’s work at some of my favorite boutiques – Calypso, Serena & Lily, and many more. Her work with resin stopped me dead in my tracks. First of all, her colors are stunning and the designs were perfect for the homes of many of my clients. Her trays and ice buckets are always a hit with them. Little did I know, she was right here in San Francisco. So I set out to see her studio in person and let me tell you – it’s one you shouldn’t miss. It was such an incredible treat to see everything – all the styles, colors, future collections in person. Read on to hear more from Tina herself!
For our readers who aren’t yet familiar with your work, describe to us briefly what Tina Frey Designs is all about.
Tina Frey Designs started as a company of modern designs in resin. The pieces in the collection are mainly functional and sculptural at the same time. The collection has now expanded to include solid polished brass, copper, paper, and textiles. All the designs start with a sculpted design in clay, before they are molded and cast in resin and are completely made by hand. The new metal collection mimics the soft look and feel of the resin collection since they are also completely hand made by hand hammering. The paper and textiles have their graphics translated into 2 dimensions from the photographs of the resin collection.
“Artist” hasn’t always been your job title. Tell us a little about what you did before this and how the transition evolved.
I have been creative my entire life and always thought this was too much fun that it dd not occur to me it could be my profession since that is supposed to be “work”. My studies were initially in biology and chemistry, followed by a degree in finance and accounting. This has all come in handy! I have always worked with product companies and 8 years ago, I realized that if I did not pursue my creative dreams, I would regret it. So I dove in without knowing what to expect. I prefer not to call myself an artist and refer to myself as a designer since the things I create have a function and purpose, which seems to be in sync with the practical side of my brain.
You’ve clearly found success in pursuing your passions. What are three things that you think played the biggest role in your success?
Perseverance, hard work, and following your heart
You don’t see resin used often in the design world. What exactly IS resin and what inspired you to select it as your material of choice?
There are not many people working in resin. I love the qualities of resin which can look like porcelain, glass, or look soft. It invites people to want to touch the pieces and they are often surprised to discover that they are resin. There are many types of resin and the natural form is amber, which comes from trees. There are also many types of synthetic resin and the one I use is polyester based, which allows the pieces to be completely handmade and hand cast without the use of heat or machines in the creation since the material cures. The resin I use is food safe and the colors are all lead free. I chose this type since I wanted to use a material that is versatile and more durable than glass or ceramic, which allows for more uses for outdoor or poolside. I also chose the material since the pieces are meant to have a function with longevity.
Your aesthetic is so unique and distinguished. How would you define it? What inspired it at the beginning?
I like simplicity in my designs and shapes in calming colors, with the occasional pop of color which changes seasonally. I am inspired by nature, the rocks, driftwood, or beach glass that has been polished by the sea. I am also inspired by travel and the colors and textures I encounter.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love being creative and being inspired by things I see in nature or in my travels. I also get to work with great people and this makes it all very fun!
Photography by Ali Hartwell for Sacramento Street