In 2015, one of my dear friends - Eva Zimmerbeutel - took the bold step to become a self-employed textile designer. After finishing her textile studies at the Dutch Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and working in Århus (Denmark) as well as in Berlin, she decided to return to our hometown Remscheid and opened up her own textile studio.
With a lot of love for details, and a biophilic concept (Biophilia = love of nature) as a base, EFFI HOME COUTURE was born. The term Biophilia was first introduced by Erich Fromm (guys, if you don't know him yet, he's one of those infamous social psychologists and humanistic philosophers you should definitely check out!). Biophilic design however, refers to American psychologist Edward O. Wilson who, during the 80s, observed the interrelation between urbanisation and an increasing human disconnectedness to nature. The philosophy behind both terms is that through integrating natural features into interior design, thus responding to the innate attraction of us humans to nature, our wellbeing is increased, creativity can be triggered and our lives are generally more balanced, especially when living in strongly urbanised areas.
With this in mind, EFFI's products now range from wallhangings over carpets to cushions. The natural products she integrates into her different designs are therefore as versatile as nature itself. Think of carpets accentuated with cork, wallhangings with banana-leaves, the most colourful feathers imaginable or natural sponges, and cushions with vintage fur. Even sea cucumbers have been added to the latest designs. Possibilities are basically endless. Just recently EFFI discovered how to preserve a really pretty looking kind of mushroom so that she could integrate it into her work. If that isn't thinking out of the box, then I don't know what is!
All of the products used in EFFI's designs are made in Germany, while the yarns come from Scandinavia, and all is mostly of ecological origin or second hand material used for recycling. This makes her label quite the pioneer in sustainability if you ask me :-). Subsequently, it is only logical that I commissioned my dear friend to design one of her infamous In Vitro wallhangings for my own little bathroom, so that I could bring some nature back to my home, too!
What is special about the In Vitro line is that the wallhangings come with little test tubes – hence the name – which can either be used as a mini vase, or decorated with some other cool stuff like feathers or little branches (check for examples in the gallery below). There you can also find my personalised wallhanging which fits perfectly to my bathroom tiles. It's name? Just as extravagant and quirky as the designer herself: Goose in the Woods! Designing it with EFFI was super easy, quick and fun. She really knows her stuff!
Surely, Berlin, Copenhagen or any other metropolis could have offered more in terms of being surrounded by other extravagant and inspiring artists. Starting in our hometown which did not have a meaningful arts scene at the time might seem a little daunting for most. But as Gandhi said so wisely back in the day :"be the change you wish to see in the world".
Naturally, that's what EFFI did. Trying to empower and shine a light on Remscheid's local artists she recently joined with the locally founded organisation "ins Blaue" (German for into the blue), which's aim is to build up a community for creative people of all sorts in the an urban district of Remscheid, called Honsberg, where currently a lot of vacant houses could be used as future studios and workshops, so that the area will become the new heart of Remscheid's creative scene.
It is self-evident that EFFI's own textile studio is also located in the Honsberg area, which she playfully refers to as the new Kreuzberg, Berlin's renowned and edgy scene district. While this may remain debatable to some degree – I mean, where talking about Berlin city here folks! – Honsberg most definitely does not have to hide when it comes to amazing street art and its density of creative people and their studios... therefore, you better watch out capital city! ;-)
"Kreuzberg. Ölberg. Honsberg."- EFFI
Integrating nature into her work and also being close to it is paramount for EFFI. As it is not only the inspiration to her designs, but – like Wilson and many others have discovered – has endless health benefits as well. I mean often enough we have been advised to spend at least 30 minutes taking a walk outside when feeling stressed or to strengthen our immune systems, right? (click here to find out how nature has a positive effect on the human brain). Therefore, coming back home and having the forests right in front of your doorstep – another thing that's pretty amazing about our area, the greenery is kinda overwhelming – was a conscious decision.
Personally I am more than glad EFFI decided to do so. All the other cities already have their fair share of quirky, amazing artists. It's about time Remscheid got one back! And about time I got to pimp my bathroom with one of her pieces, too! More than that though, it is simply refreshing to be with people who do things. People who dream big and are not afraid to try. So, if you're ever in the area, do check in at her workshop to say hi and go on a walk through the woods with her! It's one of my favourite ways to spend my time when I am back in my hometown as well. In the meantime - why not check out her website ;-)