Glass, long the aloof industrial matter of dystopian skylines and signifier of urban ennui, sheds all subtext in the work of designer Germans Ermičs. Since 2015, he has been focused on “Shaping Color,” a series in which glass is manipulated into amorphous components that make up tables, shelves, and mirrors, all striated with vibrant hues that dissolve, in gradients, to other colors or levels of transparency. “Glass was the perfect medium to experiment and convey optical illusion,” Ermičs, 31, explains via Skype from his studio in Amsterdam. The pieces he currently produces vacillate between design and art object, specifically as if a 1970s John Chamberlain resin work was repurposed for the set of a sci-fi film. Avoiding industry trends, his vast palette of blues, greens, peaches, and violets tend to come from “gut feelings,” he says, or from the natural world, such as the mingling of colors at dawn, dusk, and twilight.
Born in the Latvian capital of Riga, Ermičs made headway in multiple fields before he established his eponymous studio two years ago. A self-taught graphic designer since high school, he was working in Copenhagen in 2006 when he cofounded the Latvian culture and music magazine Veto as its art director. In 2007, dissatisfied with the limits of working in the two-dimensional plane of page and screen, he enrolled in the Netherlands’s esteemed Design Academy Eindhoven, eventually settling on the “Man and Living” department, which takes furniture, interiors, and experimentation with material as its primary areas of study. There, Ermičs looked to tenets around color, line, and contrast in successful graphic design strategies to further his 3-D work. Back at his prolific pace, the designer collaborated earlier this year with Belgian firm Glenn Sestig Architects on an installation for Raf Simons’s shop in Dover Street Market’s London flagship, creating a translucent ombré tank that undulates from tomato red to teal.
At this Art Basel Miami Beach, he will debut work at the inaugural edition of RGA Rocket, a pop-up design platform presented by the renowned Miami firm Rene Gonzalez Architect. For this, Ermičs mapped the color scheme of a dining table and glass installation to evoke the gray-blue hues of the Florida coast’s sky and ocean. As for the future, he’s moving on to reinvent another utilitarian material: natural stone. But he doesn’t plan to retool his approach, which is, simply, “changing the perception of a material that we know so well,” he says. If Ermičs’s modus operandi is making the familiar unfamiliar again, his next project is sure to transform the mundane into magic.