Today we remember the very talented Rich Roat, who unexpectedly passed away last Wednesday at the age of 52. A pioneer in typeface design, Rich founded House Industries with Andy Cruz in 1993. We were fortunate to work with Rich and Andy in the development of Neutra House Numbers.
Rich was an avid cyclist, a passion that began at age 12 when his father gave him a five-speed Schwinn with swept-back handlebars. Ever the creative genius, Rich transformed the bike by adding drop bars and relocating the shift lever to be more like the racing bikes he’d seen on TV. “That Schwinn was my ticket to independence, granting me the freedom to roam the semi-rural roads of Delaware and Pennsylvania,” Rich wrote in The Process is the Inspiration.
As an adult, Rich met Connecticut-based bicycle framebuilder Richard Sachs at an informal gathering of cycling enthusiasts, and the two quickly became friends. One day, Richard emailed Rich at House Industries with a request. “I’m tired of looking at these bikes,” he wrote. “Change them.” And so began the rebranding of Richard Sachs. House Industries rebranded not only the bikes, but the race team, as well.
In addition to Richard Sachs, the Delaware-based team at House Industries has worked with Jimmy Kimmel, Hermès, The New Yorker, John Mayer, Muji, the Estate of Charles and Ray Eames, Lego and Disney.
“I still live in my childhood zip code, but I’m always dreaming of my own private utopia where I can leave my bike unlocked on the town square, people don’t talk on the phone while driving, and there’s always a tailwind for the ride home,” Rich wrote in his bio in The Process is the Inspiration.
Rich is survived by his wife Sharon Huss Roat and two children. He will be missed by all who knew him, and by all who loved his work.