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The Foundry Journal

Designer Profile: RedStart

October 26, 2015

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Designer Profile: RedStart

October 26, 2015 BY Alon Ben-Shoshan IN Artisan Craftsmanship

RedStart

 

When Amanda Sather was 23 years old, she found herself in Valenza, a small town in the northwest Italy, pleading with the administrator of a local high school. She had arrived in a region renowned for its jewelers and goldsmith, a town “where everyone wants to be a jeweler,” as she tells it now, and she wanted to learn the basics of jewelry-making from the Italian masters who taught at the high school. But the administrator told her that the only way she could do so was to enroll in high school all over again. Dejected, Amanda went back to Florence, Italy, but she didn’t give up on the dream that had been swelling in her for years. On a cobblestoned side street, she came across Fuji, a famous Italian jewelry studio. She convinced the owner to hire her as an assistant and began to learn the secrets of the trade from master engravers and stone-setters.

 

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In 2004, she and Sara Shaughnessy opened their own jewelry business called RedStart, named after a small woodland bird with distinctive red-orange markings under its wings. Amanda and Sara were unlikely partners, meeting at the intersection of two seemingly different disciplines. Amanda had studied art history, and during her masters program at Stanford, traced the history of religion through art. Sara, on the other hand, studied mechatronics—the mechanics of electrical systems—and had technical know-how in both engineering and biology. In 2002, they met at Stanford’s metal foundry. At the time, both were graduate students—Amanda was in the design program, Sara in the mechanical engineering program. They found that they worked well together, and that their skillsets were complementary and joined forces.

 

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At RedStart, the design process is intuitive and collaborative. When they first launched, Amanda and Sara designed a series of different jewelry lines that focused on fluid, geometric, and sculptural forms. The series of pieces they made was based on rivers, vines, bones, petals, and bubbles—all curvilinear shapes found in nature. They also worked on a more conceptual series called “neighborhood rings”—each ring in the collection represents a different neighborhood in San Francisco.

In their custom work, they work closely with clients to plan out every detail and nuance in the design. Sometimes a couple commissioning an engagement ring might come in once a week for up to a year to participate in design meetings with Amanda and Sara. Sketches are presented and models are made, refined until both designer and client are completely content. The design is then sent off for manufacturing. The interaction and feedback are crucial, says Amanda. Given their penchant for working with people, it’s no surprise that Amanda and Sara also spend part of the year teaching jewelry-making at Stanford, as lecturers at the design school.

 

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RedStart is currently based on the east side of the Mission District in San Francisco, where large sprawling warehouses harken back to the original industrial complex of the area. Their studio is where they meet with clients—most of their work now is custom. Unlike other jewelers, Amanda says, RedStart doesn’t like to make the same thing multiple times. A project is exciting for them if it’s new and challenging. Clients usually come to RedStart when they can’t find what they’re looking for pre-made or have such an unusual vision that they need special expertise.

Take, for example, the man who wanted a ring that resembled pain d’epi, a loaf of bread that resembles a stalk of wheat with a series of sharply angled lobes. It required more than 10 meticulously placed pear-shaped diamonds. Or the couple who wanted a ring inspired by seven billowing yacht sails, with both pink and green gems. RedStart successfully completed both projects. With their CAD modeling, creativity, and engineering skills, Amanda and Sara have been able to take on even the most unusual and complicated requests.

 

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