Vienna-based designer Anna Zimmermann’s work is influenced by everyday observations and events that affect her personally, gaining inspiration from ordinary things. “I like a contemporary ‘sleekish’ aesthetic. I guess the visual image and what atmosphere it conveys plays an important role in my work,” she tells It’s Nice That. Her body of work is a mix between personal projects and commercial work that she considers to be conceptually demanding and interdisciplinary, carefully picking projects where she can work with other designers, artisans and experts from different fields.
“A project – be it a concept or an object – always needs a context that it is placed into,” she says. “Whenever I can, I like to collaborate with a photographer; exchanging visions and thoughts about the set and atmosphere of the photography is very valuable. It forces me to reflect on my work and take a step back.” Anna prefers to map this concept onto the choice of media as well, always trying to find one that best conveys her ideas. “My goal is to reflect on subjects and bring them closer to people by translating it into something more tangible.” Anna adds that through this work, she likes adding a layer of social controversy beneath it, adding humour into emotional or sensitive subjects.
Anna knew that she wanted to pursue a creative profession from early on, although she wasn’t sure what this would exactly look like back then. Her wide interest in different disciplines made it difficult for her to choose exactly what to study. Reading about Design Academy Eindhoven’s interdisciplinary approach in a magazine, she felt like she found something that resonated with her, and it was from there that she graduated last year with a bachelor’s degree.
“A designer should be in a connecting role, combining different aspects and bringing people together. At least that’s how I see it,” she says of her role in these projects. She describes her approach in her collaboration with designer Nadja Zerunian titled Souvenirs of Loneliness. In a moment familiar to many, the collaboration initially started from a mutual admiration on social media. “We ‘stalked’ each other on Instagram and met in person shortly before the first Covid lockdown in March. We had a constant connection and mutual understanding and appreciation for each other’s work, so we decided to collaborate on a project,” Anna says. Before settling on this concept, the two wanted to work on a completely different subject, but the lockdowns occupied their mind so much that they just had to take it as a starting point. “Nadja and I were both interested in the synchronized emotions and experiences we collectively had and wanted to express these sensations.”
The two developed their concept intimately. “To collaborate on a project during lockdown was a real challenge—during the concept phase, we would call each other almost every day,” she describes. Working separately caused some unexpected issues: materials that they ordered felt and looked different from the catalogue, for instance. But they finally met again when restrictions were loosened in late summer, which was when the two finally got to work with artisans to make their project come to life. “I met glass blowers, stone cutters, silversmiths, engravers, laser cutters and miniature painters. This was such an amazing experience to see their workshops, learn from their experience and get new insights,” Anna describes.
As a fresh graduate, Anna feels that she sees ups and downs working in the creative world, although she generally feels quite excited at the prospect of refining her practice as a designer. “I’ve received a small funding which gives me the freedom to work on my non-commercial work—which is a great privilege and I’m very thankful for that,” she says. Her blend of considered materiality and her eye for bringing different disciplines into her work makes for a group of work that’s brimming with personality and sensitivity.
Anna Zimmerman: New Office, photography with Erli Gruenzwei
About the Author
Alif joined It's Nice That as an editorial assistant from September to December 2019 after completing an MA in Digital Media at Goldsmiths, University of London. His writing often looks at the impact of art and technology on society.