SLOAN! Magazine speaks to Ruth Aram, Director at Aram Store, about her passion for design and Danish Design Month.
I grew up with design all around me. My father, Zeev Aram, opened the Aram Store in 1964. This unfettered access to design on a daily basis has greatly influenced who I am today and created in me a hunger and passion for design (furniture and fashion) that has led to many wonderful experiences in my life.
From early on I knew that I wanted a career I was passionate about. I was willing to work hard, and I knew I would need confidence and determination to achieve the goals I had set out for myself. I’ve definitely taken advice from others, but as I’ve got older I’ve realised it’s just as important to make up your own mind and follow your heart.
I originally trained as a landscape architect and had the opportunity of opening my own store, the Ruth Aram Shop (RAS) on Heath Street Hampstead, in 1991. I learned a lot as a result of this experience and it really honed business sense. One of the most important lessons I took from opening the store is that when you are creating new strategies or presenting new ideas, you have to put yourself in the place of your target audience. Will they react well? If not, or if you are not sure, then think again.
I have always had a natural curiosity for design and a passion for travel. I love that my job as the Head of Retail at Aram allows me to attend major design events around the world such as the Stockholm Furniture Fair, which I recently visited, or the Salone del Mobile in Milan, which I will attend in April. This is where my passion for the job plays a major role. Attending these shows is hard work. Making sure I meet with all the relevant and interesting or emerging designers and manufacturers, seeing all the new furniture and be present at various events is exhausting, but utterly rewarding. I always try to get into the head of our customers and think ‘what will they want, what will excite them?’
With my level of access to such a variety of designers and designs, each show or visit contributes to educating and fine tuning my palette. Having said that, before being seduced by the latest new pieces you have to check that something similar hasn’t already been produced, the industry is already drowning in derivative designs and copies.
Sometimes you don’t see a certain furniture typology for a while and hanker after something new in that area. I was once on my way to Germany for the imm fair, a major design event in Cologne, and I was after a well-crafted, timeless console table, preferably made of wood. I had not seen a good one in a while and figured if I were to find it, it would probably be at imm. I searched high and low and could not discover anything that filled the void. On the plane ride back, after a furniture-filled day, inspiration struck me, so I grabbed a pen and the only paper I had – a page of the in-flight magazine – and started sketching. A few years and a number of prototypes later, I created the Aldwych tables, which are now exclusively available at the Aram Store.
It just goes to show you that if you can’t find what you’re looking for, whether it’s a piece of furniture or an opportunity, sometimes you have to take it in to your own hands and make it happen for yourself.
Throughout my career I’ve had many roles. One of the most rewarding is without a doubt being a mother to my three children. People always ask if you can truly achieve a work-life balance. In my experience, the answer is ‘yes’. You need to know what you desire from your personal and working life and try to make sure that your job (or employer) can accommodate those wants and needs. It’s not easy by any means, but it’s certainly achievable. To be honest, being both a parent and a consumer has been very helpful, giving me an informed insight into what many of our customers want.
I love what I do and it’s exciting to work with some of the best designers and design brands around the world. I am excited about the future. At the moment Aram is collaborating with some of our design friends and contacts in Denmark for Danish Design Month, an initiative that will take place throughout March. We have a range of exciting offers and activities planned. To celebrate the 100th year of the Wishbone chair by Hans Wegner, customers will have a chance to attend an exclusive workshop with Carl Hansen’s master craftsman for the opportunity of weaving the seat of a Wishbone chair. Additionally, Fritz Hansen’s 60th Anniversary Edition of the Series 7 Chair will also be available in Pale Pink and Petrol Blue.
Ruth Aram, who trained as a landscape architect, worked with her father at the original Aram Designs showroom following a short spell working for IKEA and the Building Design Partnership. In 1991 she opened the second Aram Designs showroom in Heath Street Hampstead, which went on to become the highly successful Ruth Aram Shop (RAS). RAS established a reputation for selling some of the most innovative designs available. The Guardian called it “Hampstead’s chic emporium”. RAS was incorporated into the Aram brand allowing Ruth to concentrate her efforts solely on Aram. Ruth heads the retail side of the company at Aram Store and travels to all of the international furniture and interiors fairs in her role as buyer, sourcing new products for the store. Ruth is married to architect David Walker whose practice (Walker & Martin) have designed the Aram building.