Transcending Form and Function
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.