Meet the Artist: Colorful Housewares Hand-Crafted by SF Sculptor Tina Frey


For the past five years, local SF artist Tina Frey has been the one-woman show behind Tina Frey Designs, hand-sculpting colorful resin to create beautiful, organic forms. Dishwasher-safe and shatter resistant, Frey’s pieces work great in the kitchen and provide the perfect bright pop against a more neutral background in any room in the home. 

Frey recently hired three awesome assistants, moved into a fantastic new studio and is currently on track to take over the Bay with her lovely new collection for the fall. She took a break from her busy schedule to show us around her studio and chat about her latest pieces, inspirations and what’s up next.

Studio Images by Julia Benton

CH+D: Why did you start creating art?

 Frey: Throughout my entire life I have always been very creative. Ever since I was little I have been drawing and sewing and it was crazy that at first I ended up in finance, a career path completely unrelated to art. I am completely self taught, though I did do some courses in college to learn the technical elements of mold-making. Now, creating art is my full time job. This is the fifth year for my company and it is all getting very exciting. The first couple of years when I started it was during the recession and a little difficult, but I stuck with it as art has always been something that I truly enjoyed. It has really been a labor of love; the company has grown on its own which is wonderful to see

CH+D: How was your company Tina Frey Designs started?

Frey: I’ve always been interested in resin. I love the color and its versatility, the things that you can create with it are quite wide ranging. Of course there was a lot of learning involved with the making of the company. At first, I made pieces that were simply decorative and then I started making jewelry which became very popular with customers. The company then evolved into more table top pieces. All of the pieces are tested in a laboratory to make sure that they are food and dishwasher safe. So that the line evolved from really liking the translucency and color of the material to really expanding it to cover different materials and pieces

CH+D: What is your creative process?

Frey: My inspiration can come from a whole variety of things. Whenever I am out and about and I travel or I see things or I do things, anything that is super visual to me is an inspiration. I get inspired by color and I get ideas on how I can combine colors in unusual ways which you will see in some of my jewelry pieces from this year. You wouldn’t expect some of the color combinations used but I think they look fantastic paired together. Generally the design process begins when I come up with an idea, sit down and start sculpting out of brown clay and begin to envision how the piece will look with the rest of the collection. I basically just start sculpting and the idea will eventually come out and work. The majority of the pieces are then molded and cast to create the final product before being finished and polished which gives off the frosty appearance. I few of my more angular and straight-edged pieces are originally computer drawn and a 3D model is made on the computer before I create it by hand. 

CH+D: What are you currently working on right now?

Frey: I’ve finished my Fall collection which includes chain link necklaces in bright, clashing colors like pink with red, orange with yellow and blue with green. In terms of housewares pieces, I have a jug with a stir stick that can be used for cocktails, and I am also very excited about a joint collection I recently did with designer Masato Yamamoto who worked as an in-house designer at Bodum for 13 years before founding Studio in the Air in 2007. In August and September we start our fall trade show season, so in the next few weeks I will be photographing and putting together the catalog for this latest colleciton. The next step will be prepping a lot of the pieces I’ve been working on and preparing them to be presented at the upcoming trade shows.

Tina Frey Designs are available in San Francisco at SFMOMA MuseumStore, March, Birch, Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys. Also find them online at DesignPublic.

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