2019 EDGE: Eric Trine

Photo by Asia Morris for the  Long Beach Post

Photo by Asia Morris for the Long Beach Post

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Exuberance and playful abandon characterize his work.

Eric Trine is a product designer whose brand, Amigo Modern, is well-known for its energetic take on a style he calls California modern.  When asked to describe his aesthetic, he frames it with a simple question: What if Charles Eames, Buckminster Fuller, and David Hockney were surfing buddies?

Part of an emerging Long Beach renaissance, Trine’s work is firmly rooted in the fundamentals of modern design but with a level of playfulness of a designer who doesn’t approach his craft through a clinical lens.  Amigo Modern’s pieces can be found in stores, restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, and homes across California and beyond. Trine just showed his work as part of MADE at the Architectural Digest Show and will be creating an installation for the EDGE Group Show.

He studied art and sculpture as an undergrad at Biola University and earned his MFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland where he discovered that he was more interested in practical objects versus pieces in a museum or gallery.

LA Design Festival sat down with Eric to find out more about his process and his practice.

YOU’RE TRAPPED IN AN ELEVATOR AND SOMEONE ASKS YOU WHAT YOU DO, WHAT DO YOU SAY?

I run a small design studio focused on furniture, home accessories, and small scale design/build projects.

WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES?

Cash flow. Not an exciting answer, but generating enough revenue to maintain our overhead and also invest in new projects and products is always a challenge. 

Generating ideas isn't hard, it's generating the cash to consistently bring those ideas to the world with quality and care.

WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESSES?

I think just the simple fact that I'm still here doing this thing and it keeps growing. Just the mere fact that our business hasn't fizzled out within the first 5 years is successful - it's against the odds of most small businesses.

WHAT ARE YOU SUPER EXCITED ABOUT RIGHT NOW?

Seeing our new(er) pieces land in great projects and spaces. We love when people our stuff and it goes in their homes, it means a lot that a customer would choose our work when there are so many options out there. But the thing I'm most excited about is the cool commercial projects we've been working on - because so many more people can enjoy it! Our collaboration with Saguaro Hotels has been great - we've been able to make new stuff that's being enjoyed by thousands of people every week!

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO NEXT?

I'm loving working on public/commercial spaces - whether it's a hotel lobby, or outdoor terrace of a co-working space, or a cool plant installation at our local coffee shop. 

I want to do more of that.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE DESIGNER OR ARTIST FROM WHOM YOU DRAW INSPIRATION?

Seth Godin - his writing has helped me clarify my vision, what I’m here to do, who I want to serve, and how I want to serve. 

WHAT’S YOUR DAILY RITUAL LIKE?

I don’t have a daily ritual - my days are always different. I get up, make breakfast for my kids, coffee for my wife and I, head into work around 9 - then it’s all different/flexible - then I aim to leave work at 5:30. 

Haily Zaki