After finishing a study-abroad program together in Milan, designer friends Emmet Rock, Fritz Riha and Marc Reisen found themselves missing the invaluable creative feedback loop that comes from working collaboratively rather than individually. With Rock in Dublin, Reisen in Palo Alto and Riha in London, it seemed as though the group would never be able to recapture the same rewarding, creative symbiosis they had experienced in Italy. However, the trio had a different idea. Ignoring the physical distance between them, they decided to band together to form a transatlantic creative firm that focused on the strength of a collective voice rather than a shared space and timezone. They named their new design alliance Eagle Wolf Orca.
The name Eagle Wolf Orca (EWO) was inspired by a dream of a close mutual friend, who one night visioned Reisen as a wolf howling into the moonlight. The friends liked the imagery so much that selecting someone’s spirit animal became a regular pastime, and soon, Riha and Rock were also assigned their own symbols as an orca and eagle. Combining their new animalistic identities, the group arrived at Eagle Wolf Orca, a title which represented their strength both as individuals and as a collective. Imagining themselves as three separate elements combined into a singular vision, EWO selected a totem pole as their icon. Narrative and sacred, the totem pole made a fitting symbol for EWO’s collective voice and their desire to tell stories with their work.
With an array of talents (Reisen in transportation, Riha in visual and Rock in product), EWO’s cohesion comes from their desire to tell a story, rather than a consistent form. “Each of us share the ability to be excellent storytellers and visual communicators, whether it be in physical products, visual infographics or beautifully rendered artwork,” says Rock. “One thing that our stories have in common is that there is always a thread that pulls at you. We want to create products that don’t lack human empathy.”
Coming together over Skype dates and weekly updates, EWO offers a dynamic place for mutual critique and idea sharing among the group. “The benefit of working with another designer is invaluable. When we design as individuals it is often in a vacuum,” says Rock. “We become fanatical over radii, pixel perfect imagery; and fall into pedantic rituals or the ‘to-and-fro’ of design masturbation (vacillating between ideas). Sometimes it is nice to have someone to tell you to stop or ‘man, that’s incredible, run with it.’ Feedback is incredible. Our mantra is question, challenge and respect. It pushes us beyond our comfort zone and into something uncomfortable, which in the end is far more fulfilling.”
Finding commonalities across multiple disciplines, EWO’s work ranges from branding initiatives to furniture. One of EWO’s latest projects is a series of furniture created by Rock which explores the relationship between the natural and the contemporary. The series includes multiple kind of products with each piece telling a story of its own. One particular piece, Cernunnos, is riff on a traditional deer bust and a labor of love by the artist: “The whole process from start to finish had around six billion stories surrounding the project, and I love that. For example getting the skull, I called up the ranger in the local national park and bartered with him for a little bit,” says Rock. “The process then of learning how to strip it was very ‘man vs wild’ and a steep learning curve, and to juxtapose these ancient techniques with the super modern techniques to create the aluminum skull was an odd experience.” Other recent projects include a series of sleek glass coffee tables supported by natural materials such as antlers and large stones, each piece with a story of its own.
Besides Rock’s latest furniture collection, EWO’s other main focus is branding and helping other companies build their stories, while EWO continues to construct its own. For instance, when launching their website, the trio created an entire legend behind the beginnings of the Eagle, the Wolf and the Orca. Working collaboratively, EWO hopes to showcase the power of storytelling in branding and in all art. “Eagle Wolf Orca is a collective of how we wish to create. We create in order to communicate a story. We desired to have our voice heard, but not necessarily having to utter a word.”
You can explore more of Eagle Wolf Orca’s work on their website.
Photos courtesy of EWO.