One to Watch: theCoastal

by Nina Myers McCammon

How fantastic are these geometric, hand-painted ceramic coasters from Rissa Sandman of theCoastal? I wasn't the least bit surprised to learn that she got her start at a high end residential architecture firm prior to starting up her one-year-old Pacific Grove, California-based company. I mean, look at all that perfect symmetry! The story of Rissa's company is highly relatable, involving an "incident" on the home-front: her husband nearly put a wet cup down on one of the beautiful coffee tables her father gifted them when they got married, so the resourceful designer decided to tackle coaster production herself. More on her process below.

Tools of the trade courtesy of Rissa

I'm cracking up over the coffee table incident because I can totally relate and so can anyone who takes pride in their furniture.
I'm very sentimental. My father made the two tables back when he and my mother were newlyweds, so they're among some of my most prized possessions. We used them exclusively for books in order to keep them in perfect condition, but in order to actually enjoy them as they were intended, we needed to buy some coasters. I had coasters from college that I used to protect a beautiful desk my father refinished for me, but they weren't very functional so I stopped using them.

Curious to hear your take on the ideal coaster.
Stylish and durable, but not too slick. I wanted ones that were semi-absorbent and lightly sealed for easy surface cleaning. I made a set for us, and after two months and a lot of encouragement from my husband, I opened my Etsy shop.

I love your graphic style. Can you share your creative process?
I'm inspired by simple shapes. I usually start a design by drawing a triangle, square or single line. From there, I either rotate, mirror, divide, or multiply it, and then I stop drawing, and just visualize the next steps. I think about how the existing lines can intersect to create new shapes and voids. I think about where to add new lines, and I experiment with the negative and positive spaces of the design. All the coasters are designed, hand painted, backed with cork and sealed by me. My dad helps to sand and shape all of the ceramic, and when I'm on a strict deadline, my husband helps prep the coasters for painting, tackling box assembly or running to the post office for me.

Indigo watercolor collection coming later this summer

I noticed on Instagram that you're starting to branch out with watercolor.
Yes, I also have a strong love for organic and softer, more curvilinear designs, so I'm exploring with that aesthetic at the moment.

Excellent. When will the indigo collection be available in your shop?
I'm swamped preparing for Renegade SF in July, so I'll be doing a shop update in August. I'll be selling them at Renegade though!

Thank you so much for sharing, Rissa! You can find more of her lovely work here.