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Eric Schmitt

Eric Schmitt is a French product designer known for his mastery of metals, such as iron and bronze, and his passion for sculptural furniture with a functional core. He was born in 1955 in Toulouse, but lives and works near Fontainebleau. Before becoming a designer, Eric trained in rock-music research, tried photography and worked in film decoration. In the early 1980s, he started making objects using metal scraps in a small Paris studio that he shared with other artists. There, he joined a designer group called the “Barbarians”, whose lead figures were Mattia Bonetti, Elizabeth Garouste and Olivier Gagnere.
In 1987 he exhibited his first pieces at the “VIA” [Valorisation de l’Innovation dans l’Ameublement] in Paris. There, his works got noticed by Christian Liaigre, the rising star of French design of the 1990s. That was how Eric and Christian started their professional collaboration: from the refurbishment of the Hotel Montalembert, and the design of unique limited edition pieces for Christian’s gallery on rue de Verneuil in 2013 to nowadays.
He is one of the most creative artists continuing the Art Deco tradition in France. His works can be considered at the cutting edge of sculpture, architecture and design, featuring contemporary, yet fluid forms that have been melted, carved or blown using solid materials such as bronze, alabaster, marble and Bohemian glass. After focusing on lines and right angles, Schmitt has turned his attention to curves. His pieces respect geometrical rules while symbolically evoking natural forms.
Indeed, his works are inspired by the simplicity of shape in Romanesque art, which has dominated the Poitou region where he grew up. Eric Schmitt’s works, which reflect his unique take on the French Art Deco tradition, are often made to measure or limited editions of 12 to 24. His designs are foremost functional, yet his aim is to create furniture that erases its functionality making the distinction between the object and sculpture ambiguous. One of the main challenges faced by Eric is to to make objects from heavy materials, that look light and ethereal, while retaining its function.
“What is interesting and exciting [about product design] is the mystery of the process, from mind to sketch” says Eric Schmitt. He always carry a small sketchbook, where he scribbles a shape or an idea. Then he works with his assistant, who develops the idea on a computer. The proportions are worked out to the millimetre - “it is not a free art creation, as we are constantly bound by the function of the object”. This allows to create a digital model and make a [real] model from it.
His work has been exhibited many times in Paris, Stuttgart, New York and Los Angeles.