Chelsea, can you describe your design process from concepting to creation?
The process is what it’s all about for me! Repeating shapes and events in the urban environment delight me, so usually my designs start there. Sometimes it’s something small, like a little patch of moss thriving within a crack in the pavement. Sometimes it’s a grand event, like a freight train cutting through a fresh snowdrift. I sketch and refine the idea into a shape. Then, I start working in wax to create a prototype form that is suited for the human body; it needs to have a certain weight and balance to it. I create a mold from the final form, and finally cast it in concrete. Each concrete piece is carefully sanded and waxed before pairing with other elements.
Despite their concrete composition, RaineDesign feels light and effortless. What gave you the idea to work with small-scale castings?
My interest in small-scale casting came when I was an architecture student. In my early studio years, I was captivated by a project that challenged students to cast several small plaster forms as a way to represent architectural space. Once the project was complete, I continued to use solid casting as a way to express my design concepts throughout the semester, experimenting with glycerin, wax, sugar, ice, and concrete. I became a bit obsessed with small-scale casting and needed an outlet to continue my experiments outside of school. The challenge of creating pieces of concrete small and light and beautiful enough to wear seemed an appropriate project. It was 3 years of trial and error and long emails to professors and concrete professionals before I finally stumbled upon a concrete mix that was strong, lightweight, and beautiful enough for jewelry.
What outside influences, from architectural design to pop culture, influence your simplistic aesthetic?
I’m very influenced by architectural materials and I strive to maintain their purity. Also, a huge influence in my work is natural selection and evolution. My minimalist forms are often a response to the highly refined and perfectly functional parts found in nature in leaves, feathers, etc. I’m rarely convinced that a form is “done”; I’m very open to designs evolving or being used in different ways. I also want to create pieces that feel fresh, current, and fun to wear and to use in your home. I try to be as active and involved in the arts community as I can. Knowing what’s current helps me refine my product to anticipate the tastes of my wonderful customers, while creating designs that are hopefully timeless!