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Artist and Designer Eric Engstrom Passes Away at 70

Jun 18, 2013

Award-winning graphic and interior designer Eric Engstrom⎯⎯founder of San Rafael, California-based EDG Interior Architecture + Design⎯⎯died on June 15th after a long battle with cancer. He passed away at his home in Fairfax, California surrounded by family. He was 70. He is survived by son Lars Engstrom, daughter Kate Engstrom, and by sister, Anne Verre.

Born July 9, 1942 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Eric led a full life that revolved around family and friends, art and design, and a wide creative community. A spirit of the 1960s with an ever-evolving aesthetic, Eric touched family, friends, and colleagues with his art, stories, and passion for design, and he will be truly missed.

After receiving his BFA in illustration from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Eric pursued graduate studies in art and design at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. He worked as a museum guide, line cook, and as a graphic designer for museums, rock promoters, and architects in the Boston area, and some of his iconic rock posters for bands like The Who are now collector pieces.

Eric relocated to Honolulu in 1972 where he developed a passion for interior design with graphic flair. He then moved to San Francisco in 1978 to work with several architects, until 1987 when he founded Engstrom Design Group (now EDG) in Marin County, California.

Over the next 20 years, Eric and his business partner Jennifer Johanson developed a design firm with restaurant and hospitality projects around the globe. During his design career he was honored by membership in the Hospitality Design magazine Platinum Circle and as a Fellow of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). Eric also served as a member of the board of trustees of RISD and as international president of IIDA. Eric retired in 2007 to devote full time to his artistic pursuits, photography, travel, and writing.

Starting in 2001 Eric began driving across the original highways of the US: Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, and Route 6 (the Grand Army of the Republic Highway). Inspired by the abandoned farms and bypassed towns, he created a series of mixed-media art pieces that celebrate the fading American byways. He was recently associated with Gallery Route One⎯⎯a collaborative gallery in Point Reyes Station, California.

Memorial donations may be made to GRO (Gallery Route One), 11101 Highway One, Suite 101, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956.

In addition to his extensive American travel, Eric enjoyed visiting art museums, art installations, and cultural treasures in cities throughout the world. He had a particular affection for Venice and the historic temple city of Kyoto, Japan, where centuries-old architectural gems captured his imagination.

“Eric was a true renaissance man…an original hipster who appreciated the undiscovered art in life—American back roads, stray graffiti, even leftover gift-wrap. His passions encompassed Ducati motorcycles, rock & roll culture, great cuisine, Japanese baseball and, of course, interior design,” says Jennifer Johanson, president and CEO, EDG Interior Architecture + Design. “He had a unique way of seeing and sharing what he found through his work. I began working with Eric in 1989 and we shared so many incredible experiences. His vision about bringing together food and design holistically is what led me on this journey, and I carry his memory with me as a great mentor and friend. All of us here at EDG will miss him.”

hdtalks: the interviews

During HD Expo 2014, Hospitality Design’s Michael Adams sat down with HBA’s Michael Bedner to talk about his half-century in the hospitality design industry. View the video.



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