Sisters Gwendolyn and Guillane Kerschbaumer – the young design duo behind studio Atelier Areti – reflect life and emotions through their newest lighting collection, Hormè
Some people don’t feel rooted in one place. Gwendolyn and Guillane Kerschbaumer, who lead Atelier Areti, fall into this category; since birth, the sisters have been surrounded by diverse cultures and perspectives. With a half-Austrian, half-Iranian father and a French-born mother — who both travelled extensively and filled their home with furniture and objects from all over the world — it is no coincidence that the duo spends their life between three places: London, the centre of Germany and the Italian city of Trieste.
Guillane studied art history and product design before becoming an interior designer, while Gwendolyn specialized in abstract sculpture and architecture, working as an architect for several years. But the sisters knew they wanted to have their own studio together. With Atelier Areti, they realized their dream. “We started with lighting by accident and we have continued because we really like the medium”, Gwendolyn confesses. “Lights create atmosphere, strongly influence the mood of a space and add dynamic to it by bringing attention to certain areas more than others.”
Their new collection, Hormé — the ancient Greek concept of a divinely inspired and inflicted impulse — explores different shapes, materials and compositions. Some pieces are solid and solemn; others are delicate and romantic. “We’ve always disliked homogenous interiors with just one style or one colour”, Gwendolyn says. “They fail to reflect the complexity of our human moods and emotions. There are moments when we feel energised and brave and want a vibrant environment, and others when we feel vulnerable and prefer a cosy corner.”
With their reinterpretation of the Disc and Sphere collection, launched 10 years after its initial conception, the founders of Atelier Areti wanted to go further. “We were still fascinated by the simple composition of a perfect white sphere and a flat round disc,” Gwendolyn says. Through the newly released iterations, the sisters “bent, added to, subtracted from, intersected geometries, perforated, sliced, coloured, intersected two discs, created sequences and spatial sculptures with the lines, globes and discs, and experimented with materials such as acrylic and glass.”
There are moments when we feel energised and brave and want a vibrant environment, and others when we feel vulnerable and prefer a cosy corner
For all their projects, Gwendolyn and Guillane draw inspiration from many sources, including “the simplicity, beauty and precision of classical Greek sculpture; the strength of Oscar Niemeyer’s architecture and his efforts to contribute to a more equal society; the elegant and sculptural work of Alvaro Siza; and the music of Beethoven and Bach; among others” they say. “We aim to create pieces that are meaningful and touch the user in a conscious or unconscious way. … Beauty is a necessity in our work. It doesn’t mean there is one concept of [it] but we believe in the experience of beauty, ranging from simple pleasantness to something more intense, almost spiritual.”
Their next project? A new range of furniture and lighting that will use the same production technologies but in different ways.