The precision-machined brass bars lining the base of Mimi Jung and Brian Hurewitz’s Pepto-pink sofa? They’re a doggie jail. At least they were, conceptually speaking, intended to be; the couple lives with three dogs in Los Angeles’s Mt. Washington neighborhood, and Truffle, the most diminutive of the bunch, necessitated the arrangement. “If you give her six inches of space underneath anything, she’ll steal things from around the house and drag them in there,” says Jung. “I wanted to make a couch that had prison bars for her, so she couldn’t get in.” Granted Jung started out sketching metal poles and wound up creating a system of stunning, diagonally canted fins that subtly shift in appearance depending on one’s vantage point, but the sofa overall was — like much of Brook & Lyn’s work — designed to serve very specific, very personal needs. Since they moved from Brooklyn to L.A. a year and a half ago, Jung and Hurewitz have been populating the studio’s portfolio with pieces they’ve created for themselves, and their new home.
Even the home itself is an intensely personal creation. When they first purchased the secluded property — partly because, after living in New York, they were craving privacy and yard space for the dogs — it had recently been renovated by its previous owner. But “he didn’t have great taste,” says Jung. “The floors were stained cherry,” adds Hurewitz. “The whole kitchen ceiling was cherry. It was ugly.” The pair ripped out the previous renovations in favor of doing their own, complete with new pale-wood floors throughout and an entirely new kitchen. When they couldn’t find a range hood they liked, they designed their own sculptural, hammertone-finish version themselves, from scratch. They lived without a sofa for more than a year until they dreamed up the aforementioned pink one. And they spent nine months looking for the perfect slab of marble to top their custom dining table, eventually stumbling on a unique variety called crazy ghost. Next, they’re overhauling the landscape design of their two backyards, and possibly redoing their bedroom and bathroom as well.
The process has been long and exacting, thanks to Jung and Hurewitz’s habit of insisting that everything be done right, and precisely how they envision it. But the results, as seen in the slideshow at right, have consistently been worth it — the same can be said of Jung’s separate textile-weaving practice, and of Brook & Lyn’s client work, which includes furniture and interiors for various outposts of the business and tech school General Assembly. Aside from those qualities, there’s one other that not only spans all of Jung and Hurewitz’s personal and professional projects, but their individual preferences as well: an aversion to anything too cluttered or complicated, hence their museum-like home decor. “We like things simple and clean, as cliché as those words are,” says Hurewitz.
If you were familiar only with Uhuru’s work, it would be enough to surmise that the Brooklyn-based furniture designers are experts at creating something beautiful from practically nothing. (The formal term for this, we’re told, is up-cycling.) In the half-decade since RISD grads Jason Horvath and Bill Hilgendorf have been designing their own line, they’ve produced chairs from Kentucky bourbon barrels, loungers from the Ipe wood planks of a demolished Coney Island boardwalk, and scrapwood stools so stylish they were recently picked to decorate the café at New York’s SANAA-designed New Museum. But while it's true Uhuru are a resourceful bunch, step into their sprawling Red Hook studio and any assumptions you might have about their bootstraps process all but disappear.
When Egg Collective launched their debut furniture collection at ICFF in 2012 — snagging a Best New Designer award in the process — they seemed to the design world to have come out of nowhere. And in fact, though the three — Stephanie Beamer, Crystal Ellis, and Hillary Petrie — met and began collaborating as 18-year-old freshmen at Washington University's architecture school more than a decade ago, the truth is they had formally joined forces and had begun crafting an ICFF plan only six months earlier. "I remember the three of us sitting outside the Javits Center in our Budget truck, about to move in furniture that we’d been working on with no one having seen for six months," says Beamer. "I was like, you guys, this is it. People could just walk by us the entire fair. But thankfully we seem to have struck a chord and the work resonated."
Brian Eno is playing, green tea is brewing, and there are half-finished projects and prototypes stacked up ’round the place. I could be in any East London live-work space. But as I talk more to my hosts — Marc Bell and Robin Grasby of the emerging London design firm International — I realize there’s something simple that sets these two Northumbria grads apart from the thousands of hip creatives populating this corner of the city. They started the studio a year or so back, with the intention of doing something a little out of fashion in the design world: “Our approach is quite commercial,” admits Grasby. “We are looking to create a mass-produced product.” Yes, he’s used the c-word — and it wasn’t crafted. By opting for production, rather than taking advantage of London’s buoyant collectors’ market, the two are aware they’re taking a tougher route. Bell puts it plainly: “Rather than shapes we enjoy making or colors we like, our designs really are function-led.” Their work always seems to boil down to intended use, and at this stage they aren’t interested in seeing their pieces in galleries. But while there have only been a handful of designs released to date, International have been getting the right kind of attention.