Get To Know Roric Tobin, Furniture Line Entrepreneur And Interior Expert

Haute Living sits down with furniture line impresario Roric Tobin to learn of his interior design origins and how they took him on the path to creating Roric Tobin Designs.

As his website observes, Tobin draws “on his many years of creating ultra-luxury, entirely bespoke homes for some of the most prominent individuals and families around the world” to present a line of showcase pieces for the home. Below is an exclusive Q&A with him.

Roric Tobin - used Feb2020Photo Credit: Eric van den Brulle

Haute Living: Where did you learn about interior design? What is a lesson you learned there that has carried to today?

Roric Tobin: Growing up in Ithaca, which is a university town, Interior Design as a career was not something I was really exposed to.  I was drawn to design and my parents indulged me, allowing me to redecorate my room exactly as I wanted. I continued that at Yale with my dorm rooms which led me to be asked to do set design for my friends’ productions. During my senior year, knowing I didn’t want any of the standard Ivy League career paths, I had my “aha” moment that my passion and skill at creating spaces should be my career. 

Interior Design is a process. Designing sets, we were not only envisioning, but physically creating them, so I was constantly improvising or changing to make them work. I’ve carried that with me. Items will change from the initial presentation. You’ll find new items that you love even more. A space may need adjusting once you’re actually in it. That’s why designers have constant site meetings and sourcing jaunts during a project. You have to let it evolve.

HL: When and why did you start considering getting into the furniture business?

RT: From an early point in my interior design career, I had wanted to create a furniture line. I get inspired all the time and want to create new pieces. But Interior designs are holistic – which means that if a piece that I designed wasn’t a perfect complement to that particular interior, it wasn’t going to get made, no matter how beautiful it was. So, I had to create an independent furniture line. 

HL: What was a definitive moment that you knew you not only could but would do it?

RT: Two years ago, I realized that if I limited production I could have everything created by my local workshops. This means the quality is never in question and we can create things on a short lead time – eliminating the need for huge inventories.

HL: Is there someone in the furniture world whose work inspires you?

RT: Although I am not alone in admiring his work, George Nakashima is an inspiration. For him, the individual pieces of wood directed the shape of items of furniture the way I let the unique slabs of stone be the voice of my creations. Aesthetically, I am drawn to the works of William Haines and Jean Royere.

HL: Outside of your career, what is your passion? Why?

RT: Travel. I have always been thrilled when I travel and I find inspiration in so many places. Whether a specific inspiration or just the creative energy of a location. I absolutely feel suffocated if I go too long without traveling.