Featured Designer - Emil Erwin

Emil in his studio. Photo by Andrea Behrends.

Emil in his studio. Photo by Andrea Behrends.

How did you get your start as a designer?

The term designer is one that shouldn't be taken lightly.  Competent designers can take ideas to the final product and understand all the ins and outs along the way.  Not to say that if you can’t ______, you aren’t a designer, but I feel it's important to understand all aspects of something you want to create, as each step informs the design.  Since I was a child, I have been fascinated with the idea of taking materials and bringing them together to create something useful.  Emil Erwin has been my full time gig for six years, but I am just now becoming comfortable with the idea of calling myself a designer.

What resources do you wish Nashville had more of for designers?

I would love access to more materials and hardware.  Everything I get has to be ordered and is at least days away, and often much longer.  I have a very tactile design process, with little pencil to paper time.  I like to just get right into fabrication and if I don’t have the materials I need when inspiration strikes, I’m stuck.

Who is your number one fashion icon?

I just googled fashion icon??  I really dig what Celine is creating.  Their design is so clean and purposeful, while remaining intriguing.

What has been a collaboration you’ve really enjoyed?

We worked with Barneys early on.  It was an incredible experience to learn how the machine works at that level.

What is a goal you have for your business?

I want to grow our production capabilities, in house.  I have spent the last 6 years building a small factory with all the equipment we need.  I know of only a couple of facilities in the region that have our capabilities.  Now I just have to fill all of these chairs. ;)

Photo by Andrea Behrends.

Photo by Andrea Behrends.

What’s the hardest part about being a designer?

The intersection of art/design and commerce is the hardest part.  Everything I design and create is such a personal outpouring, and then I have to put a price tag on it.  It is hard then not to take it personally when sales are down.  You have to consciously separate ego from your work if you want to thrive in an environment where you are trying to sell your work.  That, and being poor.

Are seasons important to you as a designer?

Not really.  It does affect some color choices from summer to winter, but overall I try to create designs that stand the test of time/seasons.

What three words describe your style?


See Emil's designs and his collaboration with photographer Brett Warren at the next Fashion Happening on October 15. Get your ticket here.