We are thrilled to have collaborated with local Durham artist Gabriel Eng-Goetz (he/his), founder of Runaway, to design the 2022 Equilibrium collection! Not only did he design the limited-edition coffee boxes, Gabe also designed a tumbler and a t-shirt to go with it.
Gabriel's work explores the cultural history of identity, including his own as an Asian American born and raised in the South, and our human connection to the natural world. Outside of creating artwork for clients and collectors, Gabriel works with his community to showcase and uplift North Carolina's vibrant and diverse art scene by producing/curating events and working as a youth mentor.
Read on to learn more about his inspiration for the Equilibrium illustration, his evolution as an artist, and coffee journey.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your art and design journey?
A: I’ve been hooked on ‘creating things’ for as long as I can remember. My sister is an artist and we grew up competing and pushing each other artistically. I find art to be very fluid and it’s one of the reasons I love it - a lack of limitations. Testing new mediums and techniques from sculpture to fashion design to experimental retail and now public art, I find myself in a constant state of experimentation. Lately, I’m really enjoying the process of learning about the cultural identity and history of an area and working with a community to share those stories through the platform of public art.
Q: What project are you most proud of?
A: Last year I had the opportunity to work with The Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation to create a mural celebrating the indigenous tribes of the Piedmont. Relying on the tribal council for their guidance and blessing during the engagement and design process was a transformative experience.
Q: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the Equilibrium design?
A: I wanted to tap into the natural origins of the blend and tell that story. With beans coming from East Africa and Central America, I incorporated the national birds of Kenya (Lilac-Breasted Roller) and Guatemala (Quetzal) co-existing harmoniously within a stylized coffee plant.
I’ve done a good bit of package and product design so when Counter Culture reached out about a collab I was all in. I first encountered Counter Culture over 12 years ago working at a screen printing shop next door to the old CCC headquarters in Research Triangle Park. I’ve seen the come up first hand, grateful to be along for the ride!
Q: How do you see your business and art evolving?
A: Wherever this nagging curiosity itch guides me. Latest dream idea is opening an art bar that is a forever changing installation art piece. You walk in for a drink and never know where you’ll be transported to. So many project ideas, so little time…
Q: What is your coffee story?
A: I started late at age 21 while studying art in Florence, Italy. All the locals were drinking espresso like water, so I gave it a go and ended up with a caffeine addiction. French pressed black coffee is what I make at home now, not nearly as romantic but gets the job done.
Q: You connected us with Tommy and Godric for a product shoot. Why did you think they were a good fit for this project?
A: Tommy and Godric are a creative superteam - Tommy’s the photographer, Godric’s the model and most importantly they are best friends. The combination creates pure magic, so to have them involved was a no-brainer.