Colour highlights the work of Germans Ermičs, even though he tells us he doesn’t surround himself with colour in his personal environments. Since his graduation at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, he has precariously studied and experimented with glass and mirrors in his work, creating beautiful chairs, tables, screens, shelves and mirrors, often working on collaborations to enhance retail spaces.
Through his work, the Latvian designer wants to change people’s perception of glass as a material, destigmatizing the fragility and mundaneness we tend to assert to it. He accomplishes this through the exploration of colours and different finishings that, sometimes, pay an ode to the beauty of nature. We look forward to seeing what he creates next, as he starts working with new materials and applications: lighting, metals, and natural stones.
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Could you describe a typical day in the life of Germans Ermičs?
I guess I’ll demystify the life of a young designer but running a studio requires a lot of different types of work. It’s not just designing but also emailing and communication, as well as taking care of production and logistics. A typical day for me right now might start by biking to my studio in the morning, having a coffee and starting with my emails – it’s quite an office-type job at the moment! In regards to the production of my work, I often prototype in my studio and tend to collaborate with other producers to finish some of my pieces, so I have to travel a lot. Regardless, every day is usually something different, it’s exciting!
You’re renown for your glass furniture and décor pieces. Why did you choose to consistently work with this material?
It started with an interest in mirrors. I worked with them for my graduation piece at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, titled Isometric Mirrors (2011). Mirrors and glass as materials always intrigued me and I felt like I needed to change how people look at them. Glass is a material that is kind of outdated and usually just blueish and found typically in offices and tables. I started working with colours and different finishings to give it a sort of new life. I want people to look at the glass and not through it.
Colour plays a big part in your design. How do you go about mixing and choosing colours for each piece?
I don’t really have a system for choosing a colour. Certain shapes or objects inspire me. I look at something and follow my gut feeling on what colour it should be. If I find a colour that’s interesting to me, I’ll find other colours that bring it out harmoniously. I do see some references to nature in my work, like the beauty of sunsets, for example. I also like to use etched glass to give a fuzzy soft feeling in some pieces.
What is your favourite colour and why?
I don’t think I have a favourite colour. I’m currently furnishing my new apartment and I realize how little colour I have around me – everything is natural wood, all the colours of the materials in their natural states. So in my daily life, I don't really have much colour, even so in my clothes. I love to work with colour but I don't have much around me, I like to be in a neutral space. Colour is one of the things that really interests me but I don't want my work to be only recognized by that. However, if I’d have to pick one… I like blue.
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When designing, do you usually prioritize functionality or beauty?
There are functional objects but that’s not where my focus lies; I’m not producing industrial mass-market products. I take a very conceptual approach with a strong focus on aesthetics. Most of the time, I work on specific projects and create unique pieces.
Some of your glass furniture has been displayed in big design events such as the Salone del Mobile, Design Miami, and PAD. Does the thought of an audience perceiving your pieces as art/something-too-beautiful-to-use ever scare you?
No, I don’t think it’s perceived as only art. I’ve sold pieces to clients who use my work daily in their homes. However, people perceive glass as something too fragile, being too scared to ever use it – it does put some stigma on my work. But this isn’t my worry, I do think my pieces should be used. I obviously don't think I could compete with the industrial design when it comes to functionality but that’s not my main priority or what people look for when they approach my work.
You’ve interned for Rasmus Kosch Studio and Studio Robert Stadler in the past. How did these experiences influence your vision and craftsmanship?
These are two very different experiences. Rasmus has a graphic design studio, which I did before even studying at the design academy. My background is in graphic design – I thought that’s what my career would be. Rasmus gave me some great advice: to learn to work with materials and craft, which is what the school is most recognized for. I realized that I enjoy working in three-dimensional spaces. I might think like a graphic designer but I need to work with both 2-D and 3-D space.
I worked with Stadler during my last year of university. He has a strong visual concept and he’s the type of designer that has many different types of projects: from working with industrial design to art galleries and curating. This experience gave me an introduction to the design and gallery work, which I previously had no familiarity with.
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Are there any other designers that you look up to?
I follow a lot of art but as for design, I couldn’t single out one specific designer. I think there’s a lot of talent in the younger generations, I’m always appreciative of the work of my classmates and recent graduates in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
You opened your own studio in 2014 in Amsterdam. What drew you to the city?
I was educated in the Netherlands and already built a network here, so it made sense for me to want to stay. It’s an exciting place to be! Something is always happening – maybe not on the scale of London, Paris or New York, but it's a cosier, more relaxed and healthier environment to be in. I have to travel a lot, so it’s a great base for me.
Are you currently working on any new projects?
A few. I'm currently working on my first lighting piece. Next to that, I'm continuously collaborating with architecture and interior design studios on various scales of projects ranging from private commissions to retail spaces. I've just completed a pop-up store in Amsterdam for Bang&Olufsen where I've taken a rather different approach working with metal and stone. Frankly, I'm very fortunate to be challenged with a different type of projects, as this allows me to expand my work and most importantly to grow as a design studio. Work never gets boring.
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