When I came across the stunning work of artist and designer Rissa Sandman, I instantly feel in love. I love incorporating as many hand made designs as possible, as opposed to manufactured goods, when it comes to home décor. There is something beautiful in supporting local artists and bringing a part of their story into your home. The meticulously handcrafted designs of The Coastal give you just that. Each ceramic coaster tells a story through its seamless hand-painted pattern. Yes, hand-painted, every last one of ‘em!
Rissa began making coasters just over a year ago shortly after her husband accidentally put a wet cup down on one of the beautiful handmade coffee tables her father gifted her. It was then she realized she needed to pull out some coasters, but wasn’t happy with the ones she owned. Like any artist, why buy it if you can make it?! In need of something practical yet stylish, her coaster creating began. Soon Rissa started selling her product on Etsy and in the last year, she has been generating some serious buzz around her designs. Making each coaster out of her home office in Pacific Grove, California, and sourcing her product here in the USA, she now has product in retail locations internationally. The Coastal was most recently picked up in two southern California West Elm locations! Her architectural training and background inspires the design style which tends to be geometric, structured, often symmetrical, and comprised of crisp straight lines.
But keeping up demand as the sole designer and artist is difficult. Her father helps her with shaping the ceramic coasters but Rissa is ready to start making a name for herself. This is just the beginning for The Coastal Designs and Rissa hopes to grow her business into other styles and product. Recently The Coastal was chosen as one of about 20 finalists for a small business grant through West Elm. The exciting news is if chosen to be the recipient of that grant, Rissa can further those dreams into a reality. The best part, you can help her get that grant. From Sept. 30th-Oct. 14th, fans of her work can visit westelmlocalgrant.com and vote for The Coastal Designs to receive that life changing gift.
To learn more about Rissa, her process and about her beautiful work, check out what this California grown business owner has to say!
How did you get started in art & design?
I’ve always been in love with art and design, but I knew from a pretty young age that I was going to study architecture. I remember being around 8 years old, and just sitting on the couch drawing the most atrocious floors plans of houses. At the time, I of course thought they were incredible, but they were horrible.
What keeps you inspired?
My architectural training and background inspires my design style which tends to be geometric, structured, often symmetrical, and comprised of crisp straight lines. When designing, I think about how the existing lines can intersect to create new shapes and voids, where to add new lines, and how experimenting with the negative and positive spaces of the design can create something completely new. I love designing because I’m constantly able to challenge myself, improve upon my skills, and rotate in fresh ideas.
What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
I would tell my 16-year-old self to keep a sketchbook, and draw in it every day.
What do you love about California?
Everything. I will never live in another state. I’m a one minute drive to the ocean, and a one minute drive to the forest. The coastline is breathtaking, but inland is just as beautiful.
Favorite Sunday Brunch Spot? Why?
Deetjens in Big Sur. The most breathtaking drive to the best eggs benedict in the world. It doesn’t get much better.
My very first design. I remember the moment I finished painting it, and how amazing it felt to design something that wasn’t architecture for the first time in 6 years.
What is your current playlist?
My current playlist has a random assortment of some of my favorite songs by Sigur Ros, Bon Iver, John Mayer, John Coltrane, Lali Puna, Electric President, Count Basie and Death Cab for Cutie.
What do you love most about your job?
I love designing more than anything, because I’m constantly able to challenge myself, improve upon my skills, and rotate in fresh ideas.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Megan Araujo is an entertainment professional with over 10 years of experience on stage, in front of the camera and behind the scenes. A graduate of San Jose State University, Megan earned her degree in Creative Arts before moving to Los Angeles.
This Northern California native is daughter to a professional crafter and party planner, so design and event production has always been second nature to her. It's no surprise that she wants to be wherever the good times roll (with gold glitter on hand, of course!)