Back in November, we introduced the AIGA 100 Chairs project and our plan to have Eric Torres of Specimen create a chair design that represented the Arizona design community. After months of hard work, Eric’s phenomenal concept is finally on display at the AIGA Museum in New York City. Each illustrative detail is a beautiful expression of the local community and the passion that lies within all the designers around town.
View this project on Behance
AIGA AZ’s Communications Director, Liz Magura, recently talked with Eric about his involvement with AIGA, the design community, and his work. Here are some of the highlights from their conversation
Liz Magura: How long have you been a part of AIGA?
Eric Torres: I’ve been an AIGA guy for several years now. Full disclosure: I think I let my membership lapse for a year or two though. I think I just forgot to renew or something, but I’m back!
Liz: What do you enjoy about AIGA, and what’s special about the community here in AZ?
Eric: AIGA brings focus to our efforts as designers locally, and through the group, we can help each other shine, as well as learn from one another. Our AZ community is special because it’s part of a creative frontier, with so much of our potential here yet to be discovered. We’re not like other places.
That’s what intrigues me and keeps me excited about living and thriving here. I’ve grown up thinking about folks like Frank Lloyd Wright, Alberto Rios, Bil Keane, Stevie Nicks, and Zane Grey, who have all produced great creative works here. To me, there’s no reason to leave the desert in search of creative sanctuary. Well, unless we run out of water here. In which case, I’m so gone!
Liz: How are you celebrating the centennial year?
Eric: I’m celebrating by striving to become the creative I really want to be: a resource for others, a voice for everyday artistry, and a guy who’s focused on retaining his youthfulness. Not wearing kids clothes or anything. Just, you know, staying young at heart and in mind.
Liz: What were your thoughts when we asked to create the AIGA 100 chair design?
Eric: I was surprised, honored, a little spooked, as in “Oh dang, can I do this thing justice?” Then, I accepted the project really fast. I’ve volunteered on behalf of AIGA before, but this project was different. Yes it’s a chair, but what it represents transcends its form and invites interpretation. It’s a project that I had lots of fun with but tried to take seriously too.
Liz: How do you feel about the outcome of the project? Do you think it was a success?
Eric: I’m happy with the outcome, and I think it was a success. More importantly, I hope others think so too, especially the volunteers of our local AIGA AZ chapter. I hope whatever home it has, it’ll be viewed as a tiny monument to the creative vibrancy and life that exists in our extreme desert environment.
Liz: What would you have done differently?
Eric: That’s a good question. I’ve thought at times that pushing detail further might have been nice, yet I’ve also heard comments to the contrary. There’s something I’ve learned over the past few years: more time invested in a project doesn’t always make it better. I’m really satisfied with the time we (Patricia Tompkins, Niki Blaker, and I) invested into the idea we wanted to capture in the piece.
Liz: What’s your advice to others about taking on projects like this?
Eric: I want to say something profound, but all I can think about while answering these questions are SNL Laser Cat videos! They’re really the only cat videos worth replaying over and over again.
I’d say: Ask lots of questions to any team members involved. Listen closely. Have fun imagining, sketching, and asking “What if?” Define limitations. View design completely, as both logic and magic. And most of all, take the time to enjoy every project that engages your inner being.
If you’re in NYC over the next few months, be sure to see the chair for yourself at the AIGA Facing Forward exhibition!
Find out more about Eric Torres, and give him a virtual high five on his chair design at www.specimendesign.com.