VMSD - January 2016 - (Page 63)
materials + wallcoverings
ST EWART F ERE BEE , V I RGI N IA BE ACH , VA .
Piece by Piece
Growing up in rural Virginia on her family's farm, Sara Baldwin's upbringing was one that truly
fostered her creativity from the start. From foraging for oysters along the Chesapeake Bay shore
to chopping trees for the wood to craft handwoven baskets, her family instilled in her a spirit of
wonder and DIY determination.
Baldwin credits these experiences for her willingness to experiment in her designs today.
"My parents taught [my siblings and I] a tolerance for
making mistakes," she says. "It's okay that the first basket you make looks like a 5-year-old made it - that's
how you learn."
Encouraged to pursue art at an early age, her parents
began enrolling her in classes when she was 6 years old,
and eventually, Baldwin went on to earn her Bachelor
of Fine Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania,
where she also secured her master's.
Originally focused on painting, it was during her
graduate studies when her admiration for mosaic artistry was fully realized. "I walked into the Met one day,
and there was this incredible mosaic on the floor,"
explains Baldwin. "[I gasped] and thought,
'Why isn't anyone making these anymore?' And this lightbulb went off."
Drawn to the utilitarian nature of
mosaics, she decided at that moment she
would start her own business in mosaic
tiling. Not knowing where to start, she
began her grassroots effort to get her company name publicized - which she coined
New Ravenna, after the ancient Italian
city, Ravenna, known for its intricate
Roman mosaics. With the support of her
family - and a one-year deadline to get her
feet on the ground - Baldwin packed up
her samples and hit the trade show circuit.
Now 25 years and 130 employees later, New Ravenna
(Exmore, Va.) is going strong. Her company's mosaics have
graced the walls and floors of retailers such as Kiehl's and
Jimmy Choo, among others.
And although mosaic tiling is an ancient practice, Baldwin
insists it's here to stay: "People appreciate the artistry, and
they want to have it in their displays or on the façade of their
retail space - they appreciate the craftsmanship," she says. "It's
also an enduring way of expressing a pattern that lasts a long
time. It's a tried-and-true product."-Kaileigh Peyton
FOUNDER, CREATIVE DIRECTOR
into the Met
one day, and
there was this
mosaic on the
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of VMSD - January 2016
Vmsd - January 2016
From the Editor
Editorial Advisory Board
Props + Decoratives
Mannequins + Forms
Materials + Wallcoverings
Materials New Ravenna’s Sara Baldwin
Fixtures Vassi Design Group/chippenhook’s Natasha Watkins
Flooring Emma Gardner Design’s Emma Gardner
Signage + Graphics
Best of the Rest
Lasting Impression Melissa Shoes, New York
VMSD - January 2016