German Aguirre: Storytelling and Spiritual Symbiosis Bring Artist and Nature Together

by Laura Goldstein

A rotating conical pendulum of burnt wood and gold leaf is a mechanical embodiment of a Japanese dry sand Zen Garden; intricate patterns of seeds on furniture tabletops recall swirling Tibetan Mandalas and a Brazilian amethyst sculpture is an ageless geological wonder. In the hands of sculptor and furniture designer German Aguirre of German Aguirre Atelier, they are as contemplative as they are beautiful.

“As a child growing up in Lima, Peru, my mother’s and grandmother’s antique store was an endless playground of lampshades and pieces of things to build with. I’ve always been mechanically minded,” laughs Aguirre from his studio in West Vancouver. “But it was my gap year as a guide in the Amazon that changed my whole world. I admired the artists of Peru and their use of stones, wood, engravings and natural elements,” he explains. “I want to tell a story through my pieces but with a modern interpretation.”

Originally trained in visual arts and design at the University of New South Wales  Sydney, Australia and in product design at The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, the intrepid world traveller moved to New York after graduation. There he worked on collaborative projects including Hugo Boss fragrances, Bose SoundWear and a 3D printer concept at Aruliden NYC. When he and his wife decided to re-locate to Tucson, Arizona for her work in 2015, Aguirre became mesmerized by the natural landscape, gemstones and minerals native to the area. “I wanted to tell a story on a more mentally conscious level that was more meaningful to me,” he explains about making the transition from product design to sculpture and furniture.

His Seed Line Collection of tables, ingenious Lazy Susans and wall-mount art are created with native seeds to Peru; huayruros, quionoa, chia, shihuahuaco seeds, black beans and shells. They are inlaid in colourful and meticulously patterned layers of eco-friendly, water resistant resin. “I love working with ash and charred wood although birch plywood is usually what I use to build the tables,” he explains. Having drawn out his patterns by hand first, Aguirre then projects them onto the tabletops, and like a surgeon using the most delicate of instruments, begins the time-consuming process of placing thousands of seeds, one at a time to form the intricate patterns.

Although designed for interiors, the tables can be used in an outdoor covered setting.

It’s truly a labour of love for Aguirre who is completing a custom dining table for American singer/ songwriter, Kelly Levesque and her husband, Canadian, Fraser Walters, a former member of The Tenors an a cappella group, for their getaway home in Kauai. “In this piece I’m symbolizing how the power of their music can shape mountains like the majestic Napali Coast along Kauai’s North Shore. Together they create this world around them through their passion, love, talent and creativity to ensure a safe and nurturing space for their family of five. This I represented by a five-petal flower which is the shape Venus, the Earth and the Sun create with their orbits,” Aguirre explains. Embedding huayruros, quinoa, black sesame and black beluga lentils into the design, the tabletop shimmers with colours derived from carnelian, malachite, turquoise, rose quartz and azurite semi precious minerals and crystals.

With a passion to reinterpret gemstones in new and exciting ways, Aguirre’s mineral sculptures, like the egg-like Gaia’s Womb in which a stunning citrine geode metaphorically symbolizes the gestation of life, appears to defy gravity within it’s wooden frame.  

A selection of German Aguirre’s pieces are available at SwitzerCultCreative, Unit 102-1636 West 2nd Avenue, Vancouver.