Beautiful Guitars by Eames Classics Designer

Lifework

By day, industrial designer Greg Opatik is Director of Design for Genesis Seating, one of the manufacturers that helps build the Eames Classic pieces of furniture. After work, Greg runs Sinuous, his Grand Rapids, Michigan-based company that crafts high-quality sculpted guitars. Here he tells us how he's learned from what the Eames Office did in the past in order to create his own unique design in the present.

How long have you been working as an industrial designer? Since I graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design in 1997. I have always been into woodworking and design and grew up in west Michigan--contract-furniture central. I loved the problem-solving aspect and working with my hands.

What drew you to guitar design? I started designing Sinuous about five years ago; I have played guitar since I was a young. My career path is in designing furniture, and one day I decided to take what I know about that craftsmanship and put it into a guitar. That one-day decision was based on years of playing the instrument and designing furniture. I could not have brought Sinuous guitars to the level they are without that time to gain the experience.

What makes your guitars different? While thinking about designing a guitar, I looked at a lot of new guitar companies and found that most did not focus on authenticity--they were basically spin-offs of guitars that were designed over 50 years ago and had not changed. I approached my design process to solve a problem, which I thought was tri-fold: ergonomics, how I could I strengthen the intimate relationship with the player and the instrument, and how to create something special and truly authentic. Another challenge was not to design something different for the sake of being different--I set out to design a guitar that made sense. The Eames would call this  "how-it-should-be-ness."

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What is it about the Eames design approach that resonated with you? I was not interested in designing and building another knock-off guitar; the world doesn't need any more of them. I approached this with a process that Charles Eames help develop and, in the end, I have a guitar that has a very sculptural form with a comforting feel and performs like something defined as an "instrument" should perform.

The true difference is in how the guitar body conforms to your body. It gets rid of that feeling of playing a plank of wood and feels very natural. Some guitar manufacturers try solving this by cutting out the backs of guitars for comfort, but can only go cut so deep because it is a flat board. The process I use allows me to bend the solid-wood body into a shape to hug your body and also roll away where you do not want it to hit you, all while keeping the guitar thin and without unwanted weight. And the process is repeatable--at an affordable price.

Learn more about Sinuous guitars at sinuousguitars.com.

lifework2012-02-22 at 2.10.00 PM.jpgRepublished in partnership with Lifework
By Amy Feezor