You may have read recently about dear friend, advisor, and co-worker, Jennifer Rausch. As I recounted then, I have known Jennifer and her husband, Robert, since returning to Alabama. After moving home from New York (and after years abroad), I felt a little shy and out of place in my own hometown. It was a relief when Robert reached out to me, seeking artistic alliances. We were both looking for a relaxed camaraderie—someone to relate to in a somewhat unfamiliar world. After years of friendship and collaboration, we have Southern roots, design, sustainability, and family in common.
In those early days, Robert approached me and asked if I would speak to his university photography class about living and working as a fashion and photography stylist. Shortly thereafter, we became fast friends. It wasn’t long before Robert was helping me with projects for my first company. And since those early days, he has been a part of designing and creating images and photographs for the Alabama Chanin website, catalogs, the Studio Book series, and any number of other materials. We have co-hosted dinners, picnics, and events together over the years. We have raised kids, shared a dog, and talked design.
In 2002, Robert bought and restored a historic building in our community, which is now called GAS Design Center. He shares a deep love of sustainability and healthy living and this was evident in his approach to renovating the space and building the business. Every reusable board was repurposed and natural elements were invited in whenever possible. Natural light is perfectly harnessed in the GAS photography studio, to often-breathtaking effects. In fact, our first Alabama Chanin Workshop was held in Robert’s repurposed space—a comfortable place to launch what was then an intimidating venture for Alabama Chanin.
Robert was born in Loma Linda, California, but moved to North Alabama when he was eight years old. He was interested in design and photography from an early age, eventually studying at the Parsons School of Design in Paris. He traveled through Africa as a photojournalist and lived in Atlanta and New York before moving to Los Angeles to work as a fashion photographer. Settled back into our community, he now works as an artistic director, designer, and photographer.
The Rausches have four children and have become one large branch on the Alabama Chanin family tree. (There was a time when little Maggie believed that she was one of the Rausch clan.) Though he is a lifelong vegetarian, Robert has taken to raising grass-fed cattle and chickens on their farmland. He loves good food, is a marathon runner, and avid outdoor enthusiast. He is, infuriatingly, eternally young.
Robert Rausch – part of the heart and soul of Alabama Chanin.