Since 1999, Keith Fritz and his cadre of artisans at Keith Fritz Fine Furniture, have been crafting custom furniture for homes all across America. The brand’s new Sculpted Collection is a collaboration between Keith Fritz and Clare & Romy Studio, combining both wood and clay. Sculpted creates organic pieces that celebrate the traditional arts by bringing something new to market that has its roots in the past, and adds unique, one-of-a-kind furniture pieces to any home. This week, we sat down with Keith and the team at Clare & Romy Studio to discuss their design process in creating the Sculpted Collection.
Raymond Schneider: When did you first start to develop this new collection?
Keith Fritz: My goal has always been to preserve the traditional decorative arts. Southern Indiana has a rich history in woodworking and clay — dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. I’ve always wanted to combine both mediums to create organic pieces that celebrates the craft of our ancestors. This past year the concept was actualized with our new Sculpted Collection from Keith Fritz + Clare & Romy Studio.
Raymond: What was the overall timeline from conception to achieving the final design?
Keith: We began working on this collaboration just this year. I was reintroduced to Romy & Clare in March of 2021, and after visiting their studio, I knew this is who I wanted to work with to see my vison come to light.
Raymond: What was your initial inspiration, and where did the idea(s) come from?
Keith: My initial inspiration was drawn from Roger Capron. Clay gives us expanded properties. You don’t have to worry about water or heat as you do with wood. The combination of natural elements allows us to provide something that you don’t see in the market today.
Clare & Romy: Keith gave us the initial design inspirations and some specifications regarding the dimensioning of the finished artwork. We began with sketches and identified a color palette. The first piece we created was the Mayan Sun irregular-shaped tile which was then later custom framed by Keith Fritz.
The initial ideas came from nature, travel, midcentury modern, African art, and Australian indigenous art.
Raymond: Please describe your overall creative and design process.
Keith: We craft custom furniture pieces for the finest homes in America. Every piece of furniture is fully customizable. We take a collaborative approach to ensure pieces are tailor made to meet the needs of our clients.
Clare & Romy: Our work begins with a collaborative process of quick sketches alongside conversations across our studio worktable. Clare begins the work by freehand sketching a design in raw stoneware clay and then hand carves the artwork to completion. The clay artwork is left to dry after which it is bisque fired in the studio kiln.
After the bisque firing, the tile is ready for Romy to hand paint the selected glazes upon it. Then it will be fired again for its second and final firing where the glazes are transformed and vitrified by the heat in the kiln. These tiles are fired to 2232 degrees which creates a very durable piece yet allows for some vibrancy in colors.
Raymond: Did you have a specific audience or theme that you had in mind?
Keith: When I think about pieces, I think about designers and how I can help them craft bespoke luxury furniture for their clients. We invite designers to share fabric samples, color swatches or any inspiration pieces with us so we can tailor make pieces to fit their project. Varying glaze colors for the clay are paired with our exotic woods and over 100 wood finishes to create that custom look.
Clare & Romy: In this body of work, we looked at inspirational ceramic artists from decades past. We applied a softer, more muted palette with a more restrained, nearly monochromatic, approach to the glazing. In order to achieve the look of this new work, we moved to a completely new type of clay body as well as a new selection of glazes. This collection is an expression of our journey as we challenged ourselves to see our world through a different lens.
Raymond: Did you utilize a new technique or technology to conceptualize this product?
Keith: No, everything was done the old-fashioned way. We wanted to celebrate the traditional arts by bringing something new to market that has its roots in the past.
Raymond: Describe your overall brand DNA and Ethos
Keith: We are a team of artisans who have had the privilege to craft custom furniture for the finest homes in America. We deliver all our own furniture from coast-to-coast in our own company-owned trucks, ensuring that the highest quality furniture comes with the highest quality service and delivery in the industry, all with competitive lead times. It is our goal to create luxury pieces from time-honored traditions.
Photography by Mick Hetman.
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