Sarah Schwartz and Ruby Geisler of Sarah + Ruby have been designing hand-painted wallpapers for over 8 years. The duo is passionate about exploring old-world, artisan traditions and reinterpreting them for modern audiences.
It was a series of very fortunate events that brought Sarah + Ruby to A-Street Prints! One serendipitous meeting has not only allowed them to explore new creative avenues, but also to bring their work to new audiences.
We’ve heard there’s a good story behind this collaboration!
Yes! Sarah had just moved to Boston from California and was in the process of hanging our hand-painted wallpaper in the new studio. It wasn’t open to the public yet, but Stanley (international coordinator for A-Street Prints) wandered by with his family.
He knocked and I almost didn’t let him in! I’m so glad I did. We had a great conversation about how Ruby and I make our hand-painted sheets, he took some samples to show the A-Street team, and things got rolling from there.
What’s been most rewarding about this unexpected opportunity?
Partnering with A-Street Prints has enabled us to have fun and explore creative, new designs that normally would be outside our limitations.
Designing hand-painted wallpapers comes with constraints - the biggest being our ability to reproduce a pattern in a limited time frame. When we come up with a design, we have to ask ourselves: can we realistically reproduce this hundreds of times over? As much as we might like a pattern, sometimes the answer is no.
Working with A-Street, we’ve been able to experiment with designs we wouldn’t be able to create easily on our own. It’s been very satisfying to have this collection aesthetically honor the subtleties of centuries-old, hand-crafted traditions while making the product more widely accessible.
What inspires you both? What influences shaped this collection?
We are both artists. Everything we do has roots in artisan traditions. We love turning this little-known historical process of “paste paper” into something with a fabulous textural and modern aesthetic. Paste paper is a subtractive process, involving coating an entire sheet with paint and then removing it with various tools to create a pattern. So much of what we do comes from pure experimentation, often with unassuming and unexpected tools: a dollar store back scratcher, an old credit card, and a cake frosting spatula are among our favorites.
But we’re coastal girls – both of us lived in California until recently (when Sarah moved to Boston). Inevitably, the visual textures we come up with almost always remind us of coastal nature. This collection is no different, with patterns that remind us of tidal waters, coastal beaches and mountain ranges, and even the natural stone arches of Cabo San Lucas.
Any unexpected delights from collaborating with A-Street?
The palette of this collection is gorgeous! We never would have explored these colorways on our own (hello, teals!), but we could see from the way the studio team presented these colors that they complemented our patterns perfectly. The process really made us see our own work from a different perspective, yet the collection stays true to the desaturated, livable palette Sarah + Ruby is known for.
Both Drift and Cabo are also products of A-Street encouraging us to experiment outside our norm. Much of our regular design process tends to favor linear patterns, so developing these flowing, organic designs was so much fun!
Any styling recommendations for those interested in using your collection in their home?
We see this collection, like all Sarah + Ruby wallpaper, living in nuanced, sophisticated, and layered spaces and in homes where the homeowners appreciate the work of artists and craftspeople. This collection can live in traditional or modern homes, but certainly in spaces where people enjoy seeing the artist’s hand in the work and its perfectly imperfect details.