When architect Amy Reichert won second place in the Philip and Sylvia Spertus Judaica Prize for her seder plate in 1996, it started her down a trail of Judaica design. For the past 20 years, Amy's work has been shown in numerous museums and, more recently, on her own e-commerce site. She recently sat down with us for our Meet the Maker series.
Name/Location: Amy Reichert/Chicago, IL
Where did you grow up? Suburban New Jersey, sneaking into NYC whenever possible!
Where did you study/train? Yale University, first for undergraduate degree in art (graphic design), then a few years later for grad school in architecture.
What was the first thing you made and sold? I have been designing spaces for years, but the first object was my seder plate, done for an international competition sponsored by the Spertus Museum, Chicago. It was exhibited there and won second prize, then was bought by the Spertus. Then I made two more which were purchased by the Jewish Museum, NYC, and the Yale University Art Gallery (their only piece of Judaica)
Who is your design idol? I'd have to say Charles and Rae Eames, because I loved their hands-on process (bending plywood forms in their bathtub) but also because they saw the entire world, at every scale (playing cards to buildings) as an opportunity for design and play.
Where do you find inspiration? Honestly, in everything — I always have a sketchbook with me, and find myself notating how the underside of a table attaches to its base in a restaurant, a flower, a store window display, etc. It drives my kids crazy because I'm always crawling under things. Lately I find myself too dependent on my iPhone camera — it's very fast, but lazy. It doesn't allow me to be analytical about what I see.
What’s one thing you wish YOU had made or designed? The bento box.
What’s your advice for a designer/maker just starting out? Be broad in your interests, don't over-specialize — and be open to designing even things that may not be seen. I was just in an airport lounge sitting next to a sales rep from a company that makes titanium orthopedic plates that will only be seen in x-rays — they were exquisite!
To see more of Amy's work, check out her website: Amy Reichert Judaica.
(Images: Amy Reichert)