Legendary industrial designer Eva Zeisel recently passed on December 30, 2011, and while I never met her personally, I had an intimate understanding of her work through her grandson, Adam Bass Zeisel.
Back in 2006, I met her grandson Adam while we were both attending Northeastern University. As a business management major still attending school, he started a website called Eva Zeisel Originals to produce and distribute some of Eva’s latest designed pieces. He met one of my architectural professors at the university’s gym and asked if he knew anyone that would be able to draw some stuff. Without knowing any details of the project, I enthusiastically volunteered.
After meeting Adam on campus, I visited his apartment just outside of Northeastern’s campus where he told me about his grandmother Eva and showed me several of her designs. Impressed with everything I saw and heard, I went home later that night and searched for her on the web. Astonished, it seemed like I was the only one who didn’t know who she was! She’s produced some of the most timeless furniture, ceramics, dinnerware, you name it… and she’d been featured in exhibits around the world and received dozens of awards and honorary degrees. It was then that I knew the company that Adam was creating was something special; something that would continue his grandmother’s legacy.
In order to mass produce the furniture and collectibles that would be sold through the site, we had to redraw the original, hand-carved pieces. At a second meeting with Adam at his place, we disassembled the furniture and with a huge rolls of paper on the floor, I traced around the edges of each piece. Handling each piece, you could sense the human and organic spirit in each curve. Every curve unique and delicately considered. Those tracings were taken to a large format scanner and recreated as vector drawings for a manufacturer to use for production. At this point, I thought my work was done, but when he began designing the website, Adam realized he needed a logo.
I told him I’d be honored to design the logo for the company, and without hesitation, he agreed to let me. I found out more about Eva through Adam and he further described her method of working. He told me her approach was very hands-on and she was meticulous with her craft. Her personality and gentleness is embedded and conveyed in all of her designs and she was interested in simply beautiful things. Thus, the symbol of Adam’s company was this: a gentle hand that signified her design approach and an aesthetic that resembles the curves of her beautiful designs.
Without knowing her personally, I got to know Eva Zeisel through her designs and through the stories shared by her grandson, Adam. I’m honored to have contributed a small part of his company that continues to share her designs and her legacy.