Jul 21, 2021
The Wood Couture Podcast Episode 3 features Robbyn Carter, award-winning designer and founder of Studio Carter in Santa Monica, California. Robbyn calls in to have a chat with Wood Couture co-founder and show host, Filippo Sona. Check out some insights about the artist at heart, her creative process, and how she sees design is shaping up for the future.
Artist at heart
Robbyn has been known to design for Marcel Wanders Studio, Philippe Starck, and Hirsch Bedner & Associates. What most people don't know is that she started out as an artist in San Francisco. She was fascinated with materials such as metal and was adamant about pursuing sculpture. Robbyn found herself working a day job at restaurants while pursuing her passion, an experience that only expanded her interest in art. She became intrigued by how art translates into experience in spaces such as hotels and restaurants. In her years pursuing formal education in Environmental Design, Robbyn fell in love with the conceptualization of spaces and curating experience. Ultimately, she found that designing for hospitality was the best expression of her artistic skills.
Cultivating her creative process
Experience often lends itself to shape people in many aspects of life, every happening eventually proves to be valuable. Spending 25 years in design, Robbyn has extensive experience. Her creative process, founded in a strong artistic sense, was refined through her travels and finding inspiration in her surroundings. At this point in her life and career, Robbyn shares that she knows herself and her approach conceptualizing well enough that she will be able to create even in a darkened room.
Ingenuity, on the other hand, was developed through exploration when challenged with finding solutions to unique situations that putting together a hotel often presents. In her reminiscence of working on the Fairmont in the Maldives, Robbyn describes this precisely. Her story is rich with encounters with metal craftsmen from Java, Indian women weavers, and even creatures around the island that helped make the multi-award-winning hotel what it is.
Robbyn also talks about how she welcomes moments when she loses focus. It’s an opportunity to re-balance and slow down which she sees as a part of the creative process, not just for artists but for anyone really. She encourages everyone to own their lives, take small breaks in the day, and have guilt-free holidays.
Shaping the future
At Studio Carter, Robbyn continues to push the envelope, encouraging her designers to explore as much as possible – something Robbyn herself experienced under the wing of someone she regards as a true artist, Marcel Wanders. She believes in treating each of her staff as an artist and does her best to set them up for success. On her newest project, the very first Fairmont in Australia, she allows every member of her team to take part in it as much as possible.
Robbyn also shares how hospitality can do a bit more to support the sustainability agenda. She proposes a gentle approach in presenting solutions for owners and guests alike. But implores designers to create things that are future-proof and to challenge themselves in presenting more sustainable alternatives for clients. In fact, she finds that the effects of the pandemic on the industry is an opportunity for forward thinking. Robbyn describes The Mondrian in Singapore with its flexible doors which close in the hot and humid summer months but opens to transform into an alfresco set-up in more forgiving weather. As the global situation continues to change, she expects that design will accelerate in this direction: agile, practical, and out-of-the-box.
When asked what she would put on a gigantic billboard in Times Square, Robbyn responds, "Do Something Outrageous!" This is certainly her energy throughout the episode. Check out the full interview on YouTube and your favorite podcast platforms.
Learn more about Robbyn Carter and Studio Carter: