RabLabs Founder Anna Rabinowicz on the Inspiration Behind Her Fall 2016 Collection

RabLabs founder Anna Rabinowicz dishes on her Heritage collection.Anna Rabinowicz, founder of San Francisco product design studio RabLabs, creates singular home accessories by merging minerals, metals and stone to dazzling effect. She holds master’s degrees in design and engineering from Stanford University, and first developed her focus on biological forms when designing prosthetics. She now applies that expertise to pieces that brilliantly fuse nature and craft. Her fall 2016 collection, “Heritage,” pairs metal and gemstones to create pieces with organic glamor.

The tartufo lamp from RabLabs's Heritage collection.While you were growing up, your family traveled throughout the country for your father’s medical career. What childhood experiences are reflected in your work?
My dad and I used to go to mineral shows on weekends—we would collect and categorize. I liked the ancient aspect of rocks—they’ve been on the earth so much longer than we have! And the colors—you almost can’t imagine they occur in nature. They’re magical.

You’ve said that your very first collection was inspired by four pieces of agate you bought during a hiking vacation at Yosemite. How did they become the cornerstones of that first range?
At that time I was designing heart valves and prosthetics, and those four pieces reminded me how much I loved the beauty of natural things.

What’s the inspiration behind your new fall 2016 collection?
It’s about remembering when people were cognizant of what it was like to welcome their guests and give them an amazing experience. With all of our modern devices, there’s a thirst for interaction and a longing for an antidote to technology. The materials are a link to nature.

Why did you title it “Heritage”?
I use materials that are designed to last forever, so if people love them they will pass them down from generation to generation. They become modern-day heirlooms.

RabLabs's Espera bowl.Your favorite material of the moment is alabaster, for its patterns, interior luminosity, and the “softness” you sense in the stone. Is there a material you avoid?
Injection molded plastic. The problem with plastic is that over time it changes. Clear plastic yellows—it’s ephemeral. When I make design decisions, I’m thinking about what it’s going to look like in 50 or 100 years. For example, our Espera sea fan bowl is made of solid stainless steel, and in a century it will look exactly the same as it does right now.

A version of this article appeared in the September 2016 issue of SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: A Higher Strata.