Martin Bergmann was born in 1963 in Lienz/East Tyrol, Gernot Bohmann 1968 in Krieglach/Styria and Harald Gründl 1967 in Vienna. They established EOOS in 1995 following their studies at the Vienna University of Applied Arts.
EOOS works in furniture design, product design and developing brand spaces for customers such as Adidas, Alessi, Armani, Bene, Bulthaup, Dedon, Duravit, MatteoGrassi, Walter Knoll and Zumtobel. Rituals, myths and intuitive images are researched in the scope of poetic analysis as the starting point for their design process.
EOOS regards design as a poetic discipline, located in the interplay between the archaic and high-tech.
EOOS has been the recipient to date of more than 60 international awards, including the prestigious Italian design prize Compasso d’Oro in 2004. EOOS received the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany in gold in 2010 for the mobile workshop kitchen b2, produced by Bulthaup. And now in London the Design Week Award, furniture category has gone to EOOS for the Filo Table.
I would imagine that someone who works as a designer like you do chooses his own working environment with extreme care. How much significance do you really attach to your office as a physical place?
Martin Bergmann: Very great significance, because we spend a lot of time here. A point I should mention, however, is that my office often changes location because I travel very frequently. The car, commuter or express train, plane, airport gate or lounge can also be an EOOS office. It is by no means uncommon for sketches to be made while travelling, and we sketch a lot on long distance flights in particular.
If that is the case then what is the principal function of your office? What makes it unique, or special compared to the other places where you work?
Bergmann: I like to compare the EOOS studio with a sculpture garden in which you walk from one project to the next – and none of them are ever in the same development phase. You take a look at one of these and perhaps shake your head at a loss for what to do with it, while suddenly at the next one you have a spark of inspiration. And tomorrow the entire situation is different. But in the evening when I leave the office I am constantly astonished by the amazing results of the past working day. There are always results on hand that no single one of us would have been able to think up alone.
What do you like about your office?
Bergmann: What I love in particular is the history of our studios on Vienna’s Zelinkagasse, where we moved in 2005. This place has experienced quite a bit. Before EOOS it was occupied by Helmut Lang, Coop Himmelb(l)au and the Heinz Fischer electoral team (editorial note: Helmut Lang – Austrian fashion designer who left for New York; Coop Himmelb(l)au – Viennese architects with an international career; Heinz Fischer – Austrian President). Helmut Lang brought in the concrete floor, the division of the rooms with transparent glass elements was a Coop Himmelb(l)au idea. We have been glad to keep them both. The architecture of this nineteenth century building has its own very special appeal – for example in the rhythmic repetition of the large coffered windows that provide structure to our office space.
What don’t you like?
Bergmann: There is not really anything that I don’t like … although perhaps something I might like to see added: a quiet room where you could lie down undisturbed for a ten minute break or longer.
Are there any places or locations where you particularly like to work?
Bergmann: Apart from in our studio I really love working at our clients’ premises, for example in the development departments or at the production locations of manufacturers. It is a great feeling for me to be there, where an object that I may well have drawn and worked on for years is now actually being screwed together.
Are there any places where you wish you could work?
Bergmann: I would be very attracted by the idea of working on other continents and in different cultures. On the other hand I find the Alpine region fascinating, where I can deal with the material of wood.
Is the office a place of inspiration, of creativity for you?
Bergmann: Yes, of course, because this is where I have my partners and my team. This is where we can exchange ideas and develop them further on a team basis – from the idea to the sketch and from the sketch to the model. And one thing I would not want to do without is the possibility of shutting myself up in my room from time to time, more-or-less in isolation. My room is partially transparent because of the glass walls, but I can still concentrate on my own thoughts there, or for example, I can use the phone undisturbed – and this is a lot easier on all the others, because I am not exactly quiet when I talk on the phone …
Are there any important rituals in your daily office life?
Bergmann: One ritual that we really do carry out on a daily basis– assuming all three of us are in Vienna – is to have lunch together in one of the restaurants near the studio. It is very important for us that we have this break from the daily routine and it is something that we consciously allow ourselves. At these times we can’t be reached on the phone either. We can discuss many issues over lunch that could not be fitted in otherwise including our private lives and families.
Dining out with the whole team is also a very pleasant experience. This is something we do on a regular basis.
What far-reaching changes could you describe when you look back over the entire period of your "office life"?
Bergmann: The most drastic change was our move from Vienna’s 18th district to our present office in the centre of the city. Our former office was also very attractive, but our move to the fabric district in Vienna’s first district has brought me an entirely new quality of life. We often dreamed of working in this area earlier. It is quite simply ideal – there are not many tourists in this part of the first district and it is relatively quiet, but despite this completely central and with lots of great restaurants very close by. We like to invite clients, partners and friends to visit us in the studio and we dine out afterwards somewhere close by. It is also great for the employees to work in the centre of Vienna instead of somewhere out in the suburbs.
What is the most important object in the office?
Bergmann: For EOOS this is surely our Faema-Kopf espresso machine – everyone uses it, everyone loves it!
And your most personal object?
Bergmann: A photo of my two children in the Lienz Dolomites in winter.
Your most important tool?
Bergmann: My pencil.
The thing you most wish for in an office?
Bergmann: A kitchen where you can really cook and a big table where you can all eat together.
Thank you for the interview.