Meet the product development team; Carla Zacharias (accessories), Enri Tielmann (upholstery) and Madi Cash (casegoods).
EQ3’s spring collection is centered around natural materials like felt, hand woven wool, undyed linen, solid wood, and raw marble. With the use of these materials, EQ3’s product development team has created a cohesive collection to help make your home both comfortable and inviting. We sat down with Carla, Enri and Madi back in January, while EQ3 was busy with the spring catalogue photoshoot. We asked them how they began working at EQ3, what inspires them, and of course about the new spring collection!
A condensed version of this interview can be found in the 2014 Spring Supplement Catalogue. Watch for it online and in-store starting next week!
Portrait of EQ3 Product Developers: Enri, Carla and Madi
EQ3 What is your background?
Madi My educational background started with business and then shifted towards design by enrolling in a cross-disciplinary undergraduate program in the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture. During my time at the U of M I took a furniture studio, taught by the talented and inspirational Deb Scott who influenced me to pursue furniture design after graduation.
She gave me a great understanding of how certain things fit together – not only physically, but also conceptually. I think she was really good at pushing her students to really use their mind in ways that they may not have organically.
Carla I too was part of U of M’s Faculty of Architecture. Both Madi and I graduated with an Environmental Design degree, specializing in Interior Design.
Enri I grew up in Germany. After a mandatory year of social service I went to study Theology in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Afterward, I started a second degree in Business and Economy back in Germany. It was then that I had the opportunity to intern at EQ3 in 2010. I joined EQ3’s product development team shortly thereafter. I was very excited to combine my educational background in business with my interest in design.
EQ3 What influences your work?
Madi In product development, our work is a response to different needs. I think my friends and family have a lot of personality, and they all have a lot to say, all the time. I’m definitely inspired by them.
I read a lot of magazines and newspapers and I’m on the internet all the time so I take a lot of influence from what is happening in the world. I think it’s important to be aware of what’s going on nationally and internationally and relate that back to what we’re doing here at EQ3.
Carla There isn’t one specific thing I look to – I take a lot of inspiration from my day to day. Oftentimes on weekends when I’m not working, all of a sudden, things will come to mind. Or, I’ll see something on the internet and not think anything of it, and I’ll think of it later as being great inspiration for a new project.
Enri I think everybody has a unique background, filled with special people that you admire, different places you have visited, where and how you’ve grown up and what you’ve been exposed to culturally. I believe it’s a mixture of all of those things that have influenced my life and certainly my perspective on work.
New Stumpy Wall Hook (Large), designed by Carla
EQ3 Is there a specific designer whose work you’re inspired by?
Madi Right now is such an amazing time with so many exciting things happening in architecture, furniture and fashion. There are just so many people doing great things both here in Canada and globally that I’m continually inspired by what I see. Furniture, and even fashion to some extent, have traditionally been boys clubs, with men often dictating the forms and materials that influence what we live with. Now we have crazy-talented women like Phoebe Philo, Mary Katrantzou, Inga Sempé and Patricia Urquiola at center stage shaping the trends that are influencing the entire industry. I love that so much.
Enri I would say for myself, I totally agree with Madi on the amount of designers and artists that you can name. I’m personally fascinated by the work of Oscar Niemeyer. He was a Brazilian architect who just recently died at 104 years of age. What I really admire, in general, are designers who strive to question the status quo and who reinterpret things that already exist.
Carla I was always very interested in Richards Serra’s work. How his work affects space by using scale and volume, and how people respond physically and emotionally.
EQ3 What is your favorite design that you’ve done for EQ3?
Enri I would say I particularly liked working on the Eve Sofa collection. Besides the aesthetical aspect, we were able to introduce high end components such as feather seating and a die cast aluminum leg at an affordable price.
Carla This is always changing, and my answer would probably always be something that I’m currently developing. In the beginning it was probably one of our rugs, like the Corfu. You learn about the different techniques and then when you finally see your design being developed – it’s pretty cool. In terms of a current favorite, the Stumpy Wall Hook was a fun project to work on.
Madi Definitely the Reclaimed Teak Bedroom. It was fun to work on it because I spent a lot of time in Indonesia learning where the reclaimed teak originates. I really like that this material has a story and has had all of these different lives. Each piece has all this history literally engrained into the material, and when you buy the finished piece and take it home, the material embarks on a new journey.
Eve Chair, designed by Enri
EQ3 What tool or resource do you find most important to your job?
Madi Definitely a notebook – pen and paper.
Enri I carry a Muji passport notebook that perfectly fits into my back pocket. When we travel to furniture shows overseas, this is where I put all of my notes and sketches down. It becomes a chronicle of all of our experiences.
Carla Pantone colour swatches are important for my work. It’s a common language across all the countries that I work with and I reference it daily.
Madi I’m travelling a lot so my iPhone has become a fairly essential tool and if it left me while I was half-way across the world I would cry – but I stick with my original answer – pen and paper is the most essential. You can do everything. You can take your notes. You can do your sketches.
EQ3 Tell us about the spring collection.
Madi Our focus was toward really comfortable, wholesome, natural products that could fit into someone’s life in a very easy way. I would say warmth might be a way you could describe it. I used a lot of solid woods and clean lines – nothing too decorative.
Carla I used a lot of weaves and natural materials – cottons, wools, natural felts and linens. I focused on softening the table setting with the use of textiles and subtle colours.
Enri The natural materials we’ve used allow the collection to be integrated into various contexts from, perhaps the most obvious one, a cottage at the lake, to the minimalist condo.
With upholstery specifically, we have introduced a new design language with skirted slip covers. This is a new addition to our product range. It’s interesting to offer something to our customers that will broaden our product offering.
Reclaimed Teak Low Dresser, designed by Madi
EQ3 What does your own home look like?
Enri Well, that’s a good question. Are you visiting today? If we are expecting a visitor, then it is very clean, but if not, I’d say it’s a very eclectic mix of shoes, clothes and bags everywhere – so really messy.
Aside from that I would say it’s a collection of pieces here and there that have been added overtime that we have become emotionally connected to, such as, a set of molded plywood dining chairs that we got from my grandparents and refinished. But then there are also very utilitarian, very useful objects that we just try to combine with the rest to make a cozy home.
Madi I don’t know how to describe my home…
Enri As an art exhibit.
Madi (laugh) Yeah, it’s not so much a display, but I’ve collected a lot of little objects and books and prints and photographs throughout my life. It’s sort of a mixture of smaller items – a lot of things, but I like to think that everything I have is very intentional.
Carla We just purchased our home this past fall. It was built in 1929 and has all the original oak floors and oak banisters. It has a lot of character details, which is what made me fall in love with it in the first place, and now we’re just slowly furnishing it. Currently it’s a mix of old things that we’ve kind of always had, and a mix of new things. For the most part it’s not overly cluttered. Most things we have pose function, except for the large amount of pillows and textiles throughout.
EQ3 How do you explore creativity outside of your regular work week?
Carla We all have the opportunity to travel and it’s definitely an interest for all of us. Definitely going to new places, and seeing new cultures, meeting new people and the conversations you may have. Exploring the world is definitely something that inspires each of us.
I also love to cook and definitely would consider that a creative outlet outside of my day to day.
Madi I spend a lot of my free time trying to get out to as many different galleries and shows in Winnipeg. There are so many talented people living in Winnipeg right now! Fine artists, musicians, chefs, film-makers – it’s insane. So I always try to make sure that, even when it’s inhumanely cold outside, I make it out.
Enri I enjoy carving wood sculptures. What I find fascinating about carving, in contrast to other art forms, is that you take away all unnecessary material until you arrive at the piece that you had envisioned.
Corfu Handwoven Rug, designed by Carla
This interview was prepared for the 2014 EQ3 Spring Supplement Catalogue. Stay tuned for the announcement of the catalogue’s arrival next week.