According to Sandy Chilewich, one of her biggest motivators is to create “a new function from something familiar,” which is exactly what she did with her award-winning Raybowls, introduced in 1997. The first design from her studio, Chilewich, they were made from a simple steel frame covered in a stretchy power mesh. Chilewich knew a thing or two about stretchy fabric: With Kathy Moskal, she co-founded the legwear company HUE, a wildly successful endeavor. They sold the company in 1991, and in 1994, Chilewich left HUE altogether and forged out on her own.
Trained as an artist, Chilewich began experimenting with natural and synthetic materials, pushing their physical and functional limits. With the success of the Raybowls, Chilewich moved on to create a completely new design material. In 2000, she introduced floor mats, placemats and totes made from her propriety woven vinyl. Soft and flexible yet extremely sturdy and washable, the material, which she called “plynyl,” was the result of an intensive research process. It won Chilewich the coveted Editor’s Award at the 2001 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) and solidified her career. Since then she’s continued to expand the line, introducing new textures, colors and products, including woodgrain vinyl print, stripes, innovative placemat shapes and iPhone cases.