All the work we do is organized around the idea that the spaces we are in profoundly affect who we are… that they make us, as much as we make them. Not just visually but, with all our senses and ways of knowing… smell, sound, sun etc. It’s a view that’s poetically expressed in Rainer Maria Rilke’s eighth Duino Elegy: “The creature gazes into the open with all its eyes.”
The initials I\E\E come from “Int.Est.Ext.”–the abbreviation for “interior establishing exterior”–used by screenwriters to communicate with directors and cinematographers about the soul or essence of a scene or shot. The name is a fun, spiritually lighthearted attempt to point towards poetic questions about space, both in the way we experience it and in the way it shapes and effects us.
Some indigenous peoples have held a more literal belief that what you see in the moment IS you… not that you’re a separate being entering a space, encountering separate things, but that the space IS you. This excites us because it presents a possibility of an expanded understanding of how fundamentally important the choices we make about the spaces where we spend our time are.
The “garden” has long been used as a metaphor when we talk about human growth and meaning. There’s a story we love about DT Suzuki, the scholar who is often credited with having brought Zen to the West by translating many important texts into English for the first time. In 1953, he was invited to address the World Council on Faith in London. The group’s members were very excited to hear about Zen as there was very little information available at that point. He took the stage to a packed house. “I cannot explain Zen to you” he began “but I want to tell you about my garden, which I love.” He proceeded to share, in detail, about his simple Japanese garden for an hour with a deep spiritual genuineness… he received a standing ovation. His openness and gentle but absolute focus was a great influence on some of our heroes like composer John Cage, poet Allen Ginsberg and philosopher Alan Watts, to name a few, and we think of this often as a guiding principle in our work and attitude towards it.
But we’re not just excited about the poetic and spiritual aspects of the landscape but also the emerging science around plant intelligence and the field of plant neurobiology. The fusion of historical and modern research seems to be pointing us toward.
This might all sound high minded–and it is in an aspirational sense–so it’s important for us to attach it to a gentle humility that’s based in the ground as well. Simplicity comes after complexity, not before it. The democratic attitude of early modern design practitioners like the Eames Office and Marcel Breuer is also deeply important to us. They were informed by a streak of optimism in the future based on a new approach to living involving technology and emerging production processes; they believed good design and aesthetics made your life better and wanted to make that available to the masses. We’re inspired by this sensibility and see its presence today in a growing generalized public interest in ecology, meditation and mindfulness, contemporary art, and a longing for a deeper awareness.
We hope you can tell, we love our work. If you have any questions at all or are exploring a project, please be in touch. We’d love to tell you more about our process and approach.