You’ll Want to Sit Down for This: Q&A With Furniture Designer Eric Trine
An oft-cited part of the Breather experience is having a peaceful, private retreat wherever and whenever you need it. Forging partnerships is a big part of this undertaking — and one of the ways we ensure that each and every Breather space provides a unique experience for our members. It’s why our spaces look authentic, natural — and never overtly staged.
When we discovered furniture designer Eric Trine’s work, we knew his fabulous chairs would be an iconic part of the Breather experience. We caught up with him recently about inspiration, unlikely surfing buddies and marketing yourself in the digital age (if you’re looking for a pick-me-up, have a peek at his #FridayFancyDance videos).
How would you describe your unique aesthetic?
I describe my aesthetic through an imaginary question: What if Charles Eames, Buckminster Fuller and Sam Maloof were surfing buddies? The Eames’ brought forth a direct and accessible vision for modern furniture, Fuller produced geometric wizardry. And Maloof created beautiful, tactile woodwork.
Where do you source inspiration?
Raw materials and forms. I don’t frequent museums, art shows or design shows — unless I’m friends with the person exhibiting. I spend a lot of time at salvage yards and suppliers, investigating new materials I don’t know anything about. The hex rod I use for the rod+weave chair was found at a salvage yard, and that’s how it all started. I also spend a lot of time driving — it’s kind of the nature of being an LA designer — I’m always on the road between vendors. I find that really inspiring — the spaces in between the places.
You’ve collaborated with a wide range of people and companies — from West Elm to independent designers. What has been your favorite partnership and why?
I did a collaboration with Will Bryant during my final semester of grad school. We called it Alley-Oop. It was all about passing the ball back and forth, so to speak, keeping it light. Having fun! Up until then I had a much more restricted palette and my approach to furniture was conservative. That collaboration shook everything loose for me.
How important is social media to you as a contemporary designer?
I live by it! I mean, I’m 32, so social media has been a big part of my life — I was on Friendster when I was 19! Ha! So I’ve participated in the whole progression — and it’s always been about sharing images, culminating in Instagram. I got really into Instagram during grad school when my work wasn’t connecting with my peers in school, but I was amassing a following and engagement there. But the thing that really made it work for me, was that it led to connections in real life. Almost all my opportunities that I’ve gained in my business have been through Instagram — connecting with creative directors at major brands, like Sight Unseen. That’s how West Elm found me!
You’ve said that your work straddles the line between art, craft and design. How do you find these disciplines interact in your work?
This is a tough one to explain because it’s a fairly nuanced idea. For me, my only discipline is “making things” and the context is my studio. But when the things I make leave my studio, go into all kinds of different contexts. So I don’t try and straddle them — it’s just what happens.
How would you describe your ideal space?
I like having spaces within spaces — little moments. Sometimes that can just be a chair. Or even a plant. Other than that, I like to a lot of space between things — I like clear, distinct layers without clutter.
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Amy Johnson is a Montreal based interior designer, blogger and scented candle junkie. She is Location Design Manager at Breather.