News - 06.07.2016
Born in Iran but raised in California, Farah Ebrahimi was influenced by the film, music and street culture of her childhood and drawn to art and fashion. On finishing school, she became a student at Otis/Parsons School of Art and Design in Los Angeles. After graduation, Ebrahimi worked and lectured in the fashion industry, and founded her own fashion label. In 1996, she was appointed Design Director for BCBG Max Azria, which was followed by a tenure with Donna Karan as Design Director for DKNY in New York.
It was during this time in New York that Ebrahimi met her husband and working partner Philipp Mainzer, architect and co-founder of German furniture company e15. Relocating to Frankfurt in 2001, she worked with e15 to transform Bergman, Germany’s first concept store, into a pioneering retail and show space; while at the same time curating several notable art and design exhibitions. Farah Ebrahimi’s creative contribution to e15 is evident in the brand's communication, colour palette and materials. The modular sofa system SF03 SHIRAZ that Farah designed with Philipp Mainzer won E15 the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2008.
Living Edge caught up with Farah on her return to Germany from Milan.
Tell us about your current role at e15.
My current role is art direction for the brand. This entails product development, presentation, communication and the overall creative statement of the brand. Philipp and the team are great partners in all this. My work routine moves through different stages of the creative process. I am vigilant in maintaining a consistent link to the DNA of e15 and its overall stance as a unique, artistic, brave and intelligent brand that inspires life and real living needs.
You also work on projects for Phillipp Mainzer Office for Architecture and Design. In what capacity?
I develop interior concepts through a collage of materials, palette and specified needs. I’m not an architect; however that is the very thing that frees me from all the perceived limitations. At Philipp Mainzer Office, I work on diverse projects and mainly interiors, such as the new colour and material scheme for the Louis Pretty deli in Berlin and the Aesop store in Frankfurt, among others. I suppose the love for strong architecture, my design background, and years of experience allow me to confidently move forward with core ideas that people can primarily feel for and be excited to experience. The rest is up to the fabulous architects in the office!
You were originally trained in art and fashion and have had an enviable career in the fashion industry. How did you make the transition to industrial design, interior design and architecture?
Growing up in California, I was very much drawn to Hollywood film archives, scenography, how fashion reflected the furniture of its time on film, music (from Jazz to hip hop with punk in between), mid-century architecture, the local Hispanic culture and the overall influence of Los Angeles where I attended art school with one or two very dear and inspiring life long friends and teachers. Meeting Philipp in New York, falling in love and the exciting exchange of ideas and interests for e15 was the best introduction for my future career in design and architecture.
What would you like to bring from the fashion world to architectureand interior design? Do you think your experience in this field would influence your approach to fashion design?
Influences from fashion to architecture and interior design, and vice versa already exist for me, I simply play with the established set of rules to refine those disciplines in my own way, communicating through colour, form and material. Refining ideas in design and defining intriguing contrasts in my work is what interests me. Culture, politics and art play a big role in my creative process. Good fashion has an inherent sense of drama, impact and experimental freedom that can positively influence good furniture and architecture—not to mention quality and craftsmanship. If I were to return to fashion design, I would focus on those same sets of enduring elements in fashion, and try not to be pushed to simply produce for the sake of manic seasonal sales.
Do you have a consistent design process? How do your designs usually begin?
No, I don’t have a consistent design process. My designs begin with a feeling or desire for another way.
Which of your designs is closest to your heart?
SHIRAZ is the closest to my heart. Because it is a simply a love note to my homeland, and is designed with the person I love.