Erica Stine’s foray into the design world began at the Fine Arts Center in Greenville.
“I learned a little bit of everything,” Stine, 30, says. “It was basically like getting college courses at the high school level, and it was really incredible to have access to that.”
The fledgling furniture designer recently won a Red Dot Award, an international design prize for product, brand and communication design as well as design concepts. This year, only 13% of the nearly 7,000 entries from 50 countries received an award — and Stine’s Fly-Ash Chair was one of them.
The sculptural sustainable chair is made from a coal waste called fly ash, which is a toxic byproduct of power plants. Stine, a Charleston resident who’s currently pursuing her master’s degree at the Savannah College of Art & Design, came up with the design for a class project in which students collaborated with Emeco, the Pennsylvania-based furniture company behind the iconic “Navy Chair.”
Bringing fly ash into furniture design is a way to “make a toxic material usable and safe and avoid producing other materials in its place,” Stine says.
Stine, who received her undergraduate degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, says she loves furniture design because it’s a blend of art and design.
“I want all of my pieces to show who I am as a designer and not just look like this manufactured thing,” she says. “I really want to be able to design things that have a long lifetime, can even be handed down a couple of generations. That would really be the dream.”
But for now, you can look for her pieces in Anthropologie stores. Stine has designed a bedroom collection for the clothing retailer that will debut in spring 2021, plus a few other pieces in the works for fall 2021.