Transcending Form and Func­tion

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Eva Szu­mi­las is a gen­uine de­signer at heart who lives with her cre­ations as if they were alive. Her flair for de­sign is tran­scended through her work that is dis­tinctly-unique and multi-faceted just like her per­son­al­ity. Arabad met with her to learn more about the process be­hind the pas­sion she em­ploys to colour the lives of the peo­ple who en­joy her artistry.

Could you tell us a lit­tle bit about your­self and how you got into the de­sign world?

I stud­ied ar­chi­tec­ture at Tech­ni­cal Univer­sity of Wro­claw, Poland. I grad­u­ated in 2002 with a Master’s de­gree in Ar­chi­tec­ture and City Plan­ning. In 2004, I left Poland to go work be­tween Cyprus and Ire­land where I was work­ing in De­sign and De­vel­op­ment. In 2010, I was ap­proached by a Le­banese De­sign of­fice to join their team in Beirut and have been liv­ing in Le­banon since. Be­fore com­ing to Beirut I was a frus­trated ar­chi­tect but work­ing on var­i­ous projects of dif­fer­ent scales and ex­po­sure within a well re­puted de­sign team, The Gat­sere­lia Team in the form of Gat­sere­lia De­sign and Gat­sere­lia Nawar, has started the heel­ing process and got me back in con­tent with my po­ten­tial. Fol­low­ing to the Open­ing of SMO Gallery by the Gat­sere­lia Group, I felt that my cre­ative mind was at its peak. The world of in­te­rior and in­dus­trial de­sign lib­er­ated my tal­ent and set

free ideas that were im­pris­oned by the bound­aries cre­ated by my early pro­fes­sional years. I be­came very en­thu­si­as­tic about my work and the re­ac­tion of peo­ple to my pieces gave all the energy to go fur­ther and al­ways come up with new ideas. I was happy.

Be­sides de­sign, what are you pas­sion­ate about and how does it feed into your work?

I love pho­tog­ra­phy and adren­a­line. Speed cars and mo­tor­cy­cles. Though it feels cliché but I like to live on the edge; stag­nancy and rou­tine are my kryp­tonite. That’s why I find in­te­rior and prod­uct de­sign so in­ter­est­ing. Both have a fast process, most of the time, and the re­sults can be felt within a mod­er­ate time frame.

If you could de­scribe to us your de­sign style in a few words, what would you say?

It is a po­etry of func­tion­al­ity with pow­er­ful aes­thet­ics. It is fu­elled by my life ex­pe­ri­ences, back­ground and pas­sions; a fu­sion of my ar­chi­tec­tural back­ground and artis­tic ap­proach, in­flu­enced by both Mid­dle Eastern and Euro­pean cul­tures. The fu­sion of these in­gre­di­ents trans­forms my de­sign into unique pieces, of­ten ob­scure and provoca­tive, yet prac­ti­cally use­ful.

Could you tell us a lit­tle bit about your de­sign process? What are some of the tools you use on a daily ba­sis?

It all starts in my head. Dreams and fan­tasies trans­formed to sketches and 3D mod­els. Each of my pieces is cre­ated by a per­sonal life story, mem­o­ries.

Beirut is a no­to­ri­ously cool hub in the cre­ative com­mu­nity – how would you say life in the city has in­flu­enced your work?

It is a very cre­ative and com­pet­i­tive place in­deed. Peo­ple are well trav­eled and ex­posed, which make them very de­mand­ing. Un­for­tu­nately the lack of pro­cess­ing of new com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als and tech­nol­ogy made me con­cen­trate mainly on ar­ti­san kind of work, us­ing tra­di­tional ma­te­rial such as me­tal, wood, stone and glass.

Do you have a favourite piece in your port­fo­lio? What was the idea be­hind the de­sign?

I have two pre­ferred pieces. One of them is a huge pizza oven for Pizza & Co. res­tau­rant in Beirut down­town. The oven and the whole ceil­ing of the res­tau­rant are cov­ered by thou­sands of mo­saics pieces. It looks like a flame com­ing out of the oven. I think it is the most im­pres­sive pizza oven ever done. It is beau­ti­fully col­or­ful, joy­ful and strik­ing. My sec­ond favourite piece is the “Tu­dor Light­ing Fea­ture” that I have de­signed for SMO Gallery and that was fea­tured on their stand at the “PAD Lon­don”. It is made of bronze and rusted mild steel. It is an edi­tion of 8 + 1 ap. The lamp was inspired by Tu­dor Col­lars from the Re­nais­sance era. The time of re-birth. The rise of the Mod­ern world. It is an era of in­ven­tion, ex­plo­ration, and in­di­vid­u­al­ism but also ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the past that is an in­ex­tri­ca­ble part of present and fu­ture. For me, de­sign­ing this lamp was also a mo­ment of per­sonal re­birth and the be­gin­ning of a new life.

I like to live on the edge; stag­nancy and rou­tine are my kryp­tonite.

Which pro­ject or pe­riod of your ca­reer have you en­joyed the most so far?

Pizza oven pro­ject. Very chal­leng­ing and dif­fi­cult. A team of 15 peo­ple work­ing non­stop for 35 con­sec­u­tive days. Stress­ful but also very joy­ful mo­ments. The re­sult was amaz­ing and fit re­ward to our ef­fort.

What are you cur­rently work­ing on?

Cur­rently I am work­ing on my own line of fur­ni­ture and light­ing that I am hop­ing to launch next year. I am look­ing for PR agen­cies to help me with this. Next to that pro­ject, I still would want to con­tinue col­lab­o­rat­ing with gal­leries and pri­vate clients in or­der to keep de­sign­ing high-end prod­ucts that usu­ally of­fer a more lib­er­ated de­sign ap­proach.

What do you en­joy most about your job?

I like it when the job is chal­leng­ing and force me to push my­self and my team to the lim­its. I like to get my team to be­lieve that we can do the im­pos­si­ble; I like to frame their thoughts in a way to find so­lu­tions out­side the beaten tracks, and use un­ex­pected pro­cesses and ma­te­ri­als.

What type of brief or pro­ject do you en­joy work­ing on the most and why?

I like themed ex­hi­bi­tions and com­pe­ti­tions be­cause they give the chance to see how dif­fer­ent peo­ple think and view the same sub­ject. They also give me the chance to see how ex­treme I can go. I like to view my­self as some­one who thinks out of the box, who is unique and dif­fer­ent and these com­pet­i­tive set­tings of­fer the best ground for eval­u­a­tion.

What are you cur­rently fas­ci­nated by and how is it feed­ing into your work?

I am fas­ci­nated by move­ment and light. I love to de­sign unique light­ing fea­tures. Very far from typ­i­cal lamps. I like de­sign pieces that peo­ple can set them­selves, change the func­tion by play­ing with the el­e­ments. I like to pro­voke their cre­ative­ness and get them to in­ter­act with my de­sign.

What are some of your favourite new trends in de­sign for 2015?

Trends are short term; de­sign should be time­less in my opin­ion but def­i­nitely not bor­ing. The right mix of min­i­mal­ism with con­tem­po­rary pieces and eclec­tic el­e­ments.

What would you say is your strong­est skill?

Cu­rios­ity and imag­i­na­tion. I am in­no­va­tive, dy­namic and en­thu­si­as­tic about my job.

Who or what has been the big­gest sin­gle in­flu­ence on your way of think­ing?

An­toni Gaudi, the great vi­sion­ary, ar­chi­tect, land­scaper, artist. Some­one who made his dreams and vi­sions come true more than 100 years ago us­ing his imag­i­na­tion, casts and scale mod­els to cre­ate amaz­ing three di­men­sional shapes. There were no com­put­ers back then. He was a ge­nius to whom I paid trib­ute with the de­sign of the pizza oven.

We’d love to know what’s next for you… Are you work­ing on any­thing ex­cit­ing at the mo­ment?

I am work­ing on my own line of fur­ni­ture, light­ing and ac­ces­sories that I am plan­ning to launch next year in Europe.


Gal­lows 01-02-03

Eva Szu­mi­las

Tu­tor 01-02-03-04

Pizza Oven

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