Studio Herron

Chicago, studioherron.com We’ve been following Dee Clements of Studio Herron’s career for a long time — from her gorgeous woven textiles to the rug she designed for Land of Nod (RIP) to her baby steps into basketry. But her work truly blossomed when she began working with The Future Perfect during the pandemic. Her baskets grew in size and scope, mirroring both her personal and professional growth, and they began incorporating not only hand-dyed reeds but also painterly brushstrokes that hearken back to how Clements began her career: as a painter. When we were discussing Clements’s inclusion in this list, we said, “Bet she’s working on lighting next” — turns out we were right, and we can’t wait to see the results.  What is American design to you, and what excites you about it? I’m seeing in American design right now a sweet spot between art, craft, and design that elevates the quotidian into something dramatic, or magical, or exuberant. Namely, furniture and objects that mix typologies and/or materials to bring out fresh perspectives on the designed and built world. I am also seeing work by more women and people of color and that truly excites me! I want marginalized voices to have a seat at the table and a place in the spotlight. What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year? This year I am really thrilled to have a solo exhibition of my work in Miami at Nina Johnson Gallery and a solo exhibition in my hometown of Chicago at 65 Grand, I really want to push myself to get big, wild, bold with the work. I also have several interior design projects in the works for 2023 in which I will be designing and making ambitious large scale sculptural lighting pieces. Lighting is something I have been timidly dabbling in and these projects will be an exciting challenge and opportunity to grow. My work recently became represented by The Future Perfect and I will continue to be making new pieces for them as well. What inspires or informs your work in general? I am inspired by The Carrier Bag Theory of Human Evolution, object ethnography, and feminism. The lineage of craft throughout human history is really interesting to me. It’s often something that is profoundly connected to economics and evolution, depending on the era. For the last three years I have been hyper-focused on researching the … Continue reading Studio Herron
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Taidgh O’Neill

Los Angeles, taidghoneilldesign.com O’Neill spent time working in construction, carpentry, and historic restoration before turning to furniture design a decade ago. (Fun fact: O’Neill designed a jaunty wooden chandelier for our 2012 Hotel California show!) In the years since, he’s shown his geometric works in wood with galleries like JF Chen and had them licensed by companies like Classicon, but his new work represents a departure into more … well, actually just more. More color, bigger proportions, a looser feel — we once referred to the chair at the top of this post as a Postmodern Pee-Wee chair. He’s also been growing his collection of rugs, which begin by rendering an architectural structure in 3D, casting simulated sunlight onto the structure to produce shadows, and then flattening the whole thing into a two-dimensional product. What is American design to you, and what excites you about it? I believe that a difference in mode of production from other world regions creates distinction in American design. In other continents, there exist countless design houses that license and produce contemporary design fitting with their visual arc. There are very few equivalents to this in the US. Instead, designers must take on the responsibility of producing their vision. As a result of this lack of consolidation and curation, there exists such a wide range of design forms and materials. It can be burdensome for individuals to simultaneously visualize, execute, and distribute their objects, but the results are fantastical. The US has, of course, a world reputation of being hyper-individualistic, so it ought to come as no surprise that the designs to emerge would be bold, exuding clear and unique authorship from individuals. In many instances around the world, one can look at a design and have a strong sense of the region in which it is generated. I believe that isn’t as true in the US because of this eclecticism. What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year? For the last couple of years, I’ve been mindful of designing textiles, lighting, and furniture that would fit into our 1965 post-and-beam home in the El Sereno neighborhood of Los Angeles. I’m looking forward to wrapping up that slow-moving renovation. Other than that — continuing to carve out time and resources to keep making one-of-a-kind studio pieces. I have a few designs licensed by European manufacturers but I honestly get a lot more satisfaction from building unique commissions for local … Continue reading Taidgh O’Neill
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Willo Perron

Los Angeles, willoperron.com Perron might have the most unexpected resumé on this list. After getting his start in the early 2000s as a graphic designer and record label owner (and a brief stint designing for Rawkus Records), he was the force behind the High-Tech minimalism of American Apparel stores, earned a Grammy for his work with St. Vincent, designed sets for Drake and Rihanna, and designed Stüssy stores the world over. An exhibition of furniture at Matter last summer put Perron on our radar. Called “No Coasters,” it featured beanbag–inspired sofas, beds surrounded by a thicc velvet frame, and papasan-like chairs — basically our dream scenario. What is American design to you, and what excites you about it? Something about the new world and modernism and this very practical idea. The new world isn’t burdened with such a deep history, and gives you the opportunity to not be so fragile. If you compare European fashion, it’s very much focused on beauty and romanticism, versus American fashion, which has always been way more about function and innovation. It’s about technology, Silicon Valley, and strapping a rock to your car and sending it to space. What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year? I’m currently working on the Super Bowl with Rihanna. We’re going to keep working on some furniture and interiors projects including a handful of stores for Stüssy, and a couple of shows and concert tours. What inspires or informs your work in general? I think a lot of it’s pretty visceral. It’s things that I like, or memories of my childhood. I find my environment and my friends the most interesting and inspiring people, but most of the time I put a pile of information in my brain and it matrixes itself and then I wake up and I’m like, “I got it!”
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Tiffany Howell of Night Palm

Los Angeles, nightpalm.com Before launching her interior design studio, Howell started out as a music video director and head of fashion photographer Herb Ritts’ music video agency. Music — and, perhaps, Ritts’ glamorous photographic eye — still informs everything she does. Howell’s interiors are lush, moody, filled with both iconic and obscure pieces of vintage — often European — and with a special eye for art. She’ll often say things to clients like “I want your house to feel like David Bowie,” or “I want the house to feel like a Stan Getz song.” And you know what? Every time it works, from the Hancock Park project she recently landed on the cover of Elle Décor to the hammam-inspired partnership she debuted with Studio Kohler at Design Miami.  What is American design to you, and what excites you about it? There is no one single design aesthetic standard here. It’s a melting pot of global influences where we extract various cultural ideas and implement them with a fresh perspective, and I feel there is a real freedom because of that. I also have always felt that American design acts as a marker for what is going on socially/politically and it feels quite reflective and storytelling in that way. These narratives inspire me personally as I romance the idea of the story. What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year? 2023 is shaping up to be very busy year for us with multiple residential projects on both the West and East coasts (let’s just say there might be a skating rink involved) and several other commercial projects. We are also working on design collaborations with some very cool and creative brands — for example, a Night Palm tile and flooring line with Concrete Collaborative. And finally, we’ve been busy dreaming up on our own furniture and lighting lines that I hope to debut in late 2023 plus an art show experience which I’m hoping will launch in the late summer. What inspires or informs your work in general? The mystery and romance of things drive me. I always try to sit in the unknown when I am conceptualizing and before I enter the flow of any project. Next, I dive into the questions and motivation behind the space. I am so deeply interested in the depth of our emotional landscapes and how to bring that alive through the aesthetic. I often … Continue reading Tiffany Howell of Night Palm
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Sarah Burns

New York, sarah-burns.com We first discovered the work of Sarah Burns through her hardware designs, and then through Old Jewelry, the store she both runs and designs for that’s right next door to Superhouse gallery in Chinatown. She also creates furniture, objects, interiors, and murals — all with the same downtown-cool aesthetic. We love a multi-talented creative working across mediums, and have no doubt that when Burns drops her first official furniture collection, by way of a solo show at Marta in L.A. this spring, we’re going to covet every piece. What is American design to you, and what excites you about it? I guess I’m not sure what American design is today, or I don’t really think about what it is, at least. Everything is intersecting now. In general things are less regional and more global, and the arts reflect that, making the question a difficult one. What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?  I’ll be completing my first solid-silver jewelry collection for Old Jewelry (which will be released and available at the Old Jewelry Store in Chinatown, NYC). The collection includes two rings, a pin, a pair of earrings, a bracelet, and a necklace. I also have a solo exhibition at Marta in L.A. in the spring. It will be my first design exhibition, as I’ve mainly contributed to group shows and done custom work for private clients. Marta is one of my favorite galleries, and I’ve really enjoyed working with them. I feel very lucky. What inspires or informs your work in general?  I like art and historical design, and I’m inspired by my peers working now. But I’m also inspired by the more understated qualities of vernacular furniture and architecture, the different kinds of ambition. The beauty of these more everyday objects feels like the byproduct of the maker’s personal interests as well as their limitations, whether financial or material, skill or time. The furniture I design isn’t meant to be broadly impressive, but to function specifically and earnestly.  It often ends up blending in with its surroundings, intentionally, and hopefully there’s a gesture or two in each piece that elicits something more emotional. I try to employ a light touch and work with what Fischli & Weiss would call a ‘casual precision.’
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Luam Melake

New York, luammelake.com When we first covered Luam Melake’s wall hangings back in 2021 — which often incorporate unconventional materials such as metal, cement, asphalt, plastics, rubber, and personal mementoes — we had no idea the extent to which we would fall for her burgeoning furniture practice. Zesty Meyers and Evan Snyderman of R & Company were paying better attention than us, it seems, and would soon bring the artist and designer into shows like their Objects USA revival, and, next week, a solo exhibition devoted to Melake’s experimental, brightly colored, humanist chairs. The chairs, for which Melake shapes upholstery foam into geometric shapes and then coats them with layers of pigmented urethane, are psychological in nature. As she says, they “organize bodies in ways that make room for intimacy, eye contact and direct acknowledgment of others — furniture that encourages social and emotional engagement.”  What is American design to you, and what excites you about it? The American values of individualism, innovation, and freedom of expression feel like the most apparent elements in contemporary American design right now. Innovation is happening at a smaller production scale than ever, which makes becoming a designer a more accessible proposition than ever before. Anyone with a strong point of view who knows how to make things could potentially produce and sell design objects — free of the enormous constraints imposed by large-scale production. This has steered design closer to art since individual expression and technique are so highly valued now. The proliferation of individual craftsmen and artists creating functional objects has made space for such a diversity of perspectives and approaches to making. This is extremely exciting and makes this a fascinating and rich era in American design. On the other hand, I also find myself nostalgic for post-war American design, when good design was innovative and individualistic while also being affordable, highly functional, and lasting. It would be great to also see mass-produced design in America proliferate using the abundant talent in this country to bring this experimental moment in design to the masses in a sustainable way. What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year? I am super excited about my first solo show with R & Company which is opening on Feb 3rd! The show is titled “Furnishing Feelings” and will feature new, highly functional furniture works that offer the user multiple bodily positions designed to improve social interaction and psychological health. … Continue reading Luam Melake
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Ohla Studio

Los Angeles and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, ohlastudio.com Giulia Zink and Mat Trumbull of Ohla have one foot in Los Angeles and the other in Mexico, but it’s the latter that informed their first foray into furniture design, which debuted last year. In the city center of San Miguel de Allende, they created Sin Nombre, a residence and gallery, and filled it with their Alocer collection: slab-like travertine tables that reference early stone carvings, scalloped cast-aluminum chairs, copper lights, and more. Their gingko-esque lights and cast-aluminum coffee tables, with etched patterns resembling the moon’s surface, are the standout pieces in a collection full of knockouts. What is American design to you, and what excites you about it? American landscape paintings of the Hudson River School painters caused a stir of excitement in Europe in the mid-19th century. At the time there was a European perception about the Americas: lacking in culture, tradition, taste, etc. However, these paintings were expressing what the Americas did have: opportunity, adventure, discovery, vast rugged spaces framing the sublime.  And we can relate to that. I think our metaphor is very similar. We are fortunate to use formal tools and training to interpret and mimic these vast rugged idea-scapes — trying our very best to transmit something poetic and frame something sublime. An example is our upcoming exhibit. While driving through central Mexico we stumbled upon a lonely desert truck stop in a hilly landscape studded with gigantic candelabra organ cactus. The proprietor is this jack-of-all-trades outsider artist, and he had crafted all of the restaurants’ furnishings by re-purposing the trash that had been discarded by passing truck drivers. And they were these rugged, extraordinary, and beautifully proportioned pieces — stools, chairs, and tables. Fast forward: We’ve been invited to participate at a gallery show at UNAM during Zona Maco (Mexico’s most notable university and Mexicos most notable art-fair). Ohla Studio is re-producing the truckstop “stool” design, working with three Mexican artisans in three distinct Mexican materials. We’re just connecting the dots, trying to accentuate and amplify the purity of the design and the narrative. Trying to call attention to what is otherwise overlooked, forgotten. Our goal is to celebrate the design, the designer, the maker, the material, the university, the event, the desert truck stop, the city…. The Americas… What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?  This is an exciting time for us, and … Continue reading Ohla Studio
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Muhly

Austin, muhly.studio The designs we cover on Sight Unseen can get pretty wild and colorful from time to time, but that doesn’t mean we love simple works any less — especially when they’re designed by two women (like us) who are #tinyballs enthusiasts (like us). Muhly is the collaborative studio of Ann Edgerton and Megan Carney, who, from their Austin, Texas, workshop, make nightstands, tables, benches, and firepits out of single materials like wood, plywood, or steel, with little adornment other than a curve here or a ball or cutout there. The results are eminently liveable, and just interesting enough to be covetable. What is American design to you, and what excites you about it? American design feels both vast and personal. It’s innovative, it tries to solve problems, and it makes life more beautiful. There’s freedom in the fact that American design is a relatively young practice. We’re energized by the newness of the conversation and by the evolving interpretations of experiences and ideas. As two women, we believe the field is strengthened by the continued expansion of perspectives represented in the work. What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?  While moving beyond our first collection, we worked to incorporate our core motifs into new contexts and materials, including metals and colors. We found that expanding our material library also expanded the types of pieces we want to design. Our goal has always been to make furniture and objects that make life more interesting, and we’re enjoying the process of designing pieces with a more singular function. In addition to tables and stools, we’ll be releasing lighting, a fire pit, andirons, a box to place your phone in, and other objects that we hope will fill gaps in the designed life. There’s so much in the world designed to distract us from the present moment, and we’re interested in doing the opposite. What inspires or informs your work in general?  We met almost 20 years ago at a summer camp in the Texas hill country. Much of the inspiration for MUHLY comes from revisiting the aesthetics and heirlooms of our childhood. We formally started collaborating in 2020, but we’ve always had an ongoing dialogue about regional design. We’re both drawn to the humorous, absurd, and kitsch elements that are so pervasive in the attempt to be nostalgic. We grew up with a lot of leather, nailheads, … Continue reading Muhly
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Lesser Miracle

New York, lessermiracle.com For Vince Patti and Mischa Langley of Lesser Miracle, designing is not simply about making furniture — it’s about world-building. This makes sense, considering their name derives from a spell cast in Dungeons & Dragons, and that their first collection developed after the gallerist David Lewis asked the duo to create a show of fantasy furniture. That debut included a throne-like stool and a daybed whose calligraphic pattern recalls the Alhambra in Spain; as Patti put it when we interviewed the pair last summer, “Creating your own world that doesn’t feel like a thing that you saw in a design magazine, that you were prescribed to like or be into or told was cool or was the thing of the moment, has always been very attractive to me. So for us, this collection was about really digging deep into a world of our own creation.” What is American design to you, and what excites you about it? We would say Mu: unask the question. We do not believe a unifying trait of American design exists for us to identify. At least we aren’t thinking about it if there is one. This practice is primarily about constructing a fantasy world, and the construction of a fantasy world as a withdrawal from reality. It is in many ways definitionally motivated by an intentional unawareness of its material setting. When I (Mischa) imagined I was fighting orcs on the parapets of Gondor at seven years old, I didn’t wonder if the stick I was using as a sword had the right ratio of pommel to hilt. When we design a daybed for a sorcerer prince, it’s not in dialogue with a world that has Loewe candles. What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?  The continuing project of Lesser Miracle is to expand beyond furniture, design, and art into a much more all encompassing program of world-building. Taking a set of values, expressed in aesthetic principles and applying them to music, performance, architecture, community, and infrastructure to create a world wholly new. This year we’re excited to bring this vision into new forms with the help of a wider group of collaborators. What inspires or informs your work in general?  Mayan architecture, Brutalism, revenge, classic fantasy, rave culture, American folk art, evangelical Christianity, grief, our beautiful and talented friends, applied math, “fiddling while Rome burns.” Those are the big ones right … Continue reading Lesser Miracle
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L.A. Door

Los Angeles, ladoor.com The experimental furniture lab of Katie Payne and Doug McCollough, L.A. Door started in 2019 as a studio making actual doors: laminate and plywood versions with custom wood or resin handles and a vaguely postmodern vibe. The duo’s next release, a hilariously hip take on a La-Z-Boy recliner, got people paying attention, but the project’s longevity, and its continued release of weirdly beautiful send-ups — like a trompe l’oeil pinewood mirror and a sanctioned redux of Garry Knox Bennett’s Great Granny Rietveld chair — have given it real impact in the L.A. design scene. What is American design to you, and what excites you about it? Every American designer has their own ‘America’ — often more than one — to draw from. We’ve come to appreciate how values regarding design often reflect class and geography in the US. La-Z-Boy recliners inspired our L.A. Lazy lounge chair and are a perfect example. Over the last 96 years, La-Z-Boy recliners have become ubiquitous in America because they’re comfortable and durable. Last year, La-Z-Boy, a Flint, Michigan-based company, achieved $2.4B in sales. Bob Villa recently rated La-Z-Boy as the #1 choice in his Top 11 American-Made Furniture Brands of 2023. So a very large number, perhaps even a majority of Americans, value La-Z-Boy furniture as an important home fixture — a tool of rest and recovery for everyday life. However, within more elite design circles, the La-Z-Boy is ignored or dismissed. The brand (and its competitors) have brought in individuals like Todd Oldham to attempt redesigns in order to appeal to so-called elevated tastes, but they always fail. The design and its values seem to be inherently inelegant and unsophisticated, at least superficially. Instead of resisting its corpulent form, our L.A. Lazy recliner celebrates it without irony. With it, we’re taking a Midwestern mass-produced product (not to mention a fraught icon) and making it bespoke in Los Angeles — not in order to elevate it, but to appreciate it and open a discussion about American life. What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year? Making money, paying our taxes, and driving our work van in Los Angeles traffic; continuing to design and make in the way that we do; and exploring more faux bois techniques with our collaborator and friend, the painter Daniel Payavis. We’re also working towards an upcoming 2024 show with Marta Gallery. We’re looking forward … Continue reading L.A. Door
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Jialun Xiong

Los Angeles, jialunxiong.com Before catching our eye with her sheet-steel furniture in the This is America show at Alcova in Milan last June, Xiong studied design and architecture at ArtCenter in L.A., then joined a large firm and worked on high-rise residential buildings not unlike the ones she grew up around in her native Chongqing, China. You can see some of those influences in the solo furniture and interiors studio she launched in 2021, where everything is hyper minimalist, monochrome, and metal — and yet with subtle elements of softness that make you want to live in and amongst them. We weren’t able to share her newest interior projects here just yet, but trust us, they’re impressive. What is American design to you, and what excites you about it? There’s never just one image that goes through my mind when I hear “American design.” It could be the Modernist movement of 1920-1950, the Pop Art and design cultures, individual expression, and freeform. It could also be contradictory or inclusive, since I’ve always felt the tug between the different cultures even when I came to the States for my education and professional practice. For these reasons, there’s a lot of room for creators to share their own visions and understandings through design. It’s unnecessary to actually have a word to describe the work itself. At the end of day, my pieces and projects are just the decisions and insights from part of me. What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year? We almost completed two restaurant interiors (19 Town and Sichuan Impression) in the past year, and those will finally be ready to launch in the coming month. And we’re full speed ahead working on new pieces for the upcoming ICFF + Wanted Design event, where we’ll officially meet professionals as a studio for the first time. I only showed at the fair once, with my first collection, Black Kaleidoscope, when I was a grad student back in 2018. What inspires or informs your work in general? Having studied interior architecture and furniture design, I intended to artfully balance positive and negative space, always considering the relationship between objects and spatial volumes. Inspired by the mountainous landscape and high-rise architecture of my hometown in Chongqing, as well as the functional minimalism of the International Style of architecture, I want to create spatial environments and furnishings with an abstract geometric bent … Continue reading Jialun Xiong
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In Common With

New York, incommonwith.com Since In Common With made our Hot List back in 2018, some things have not changed, like the fact that founders Felicia Hung and Nick Ozemba still make modular, customizable light fixtures in partnership with glassblowers, ceramicists, and metalsmiths that often emphasize the textures of handicraft. What has changed is their roster, which since grew to encompass two incredible ceramic lighting collaborations with Danny Kaplan, in 2020 and 2022, and a floral-inspired glass fixture collection developed with Sophie Lou Jacobsen that, when it launched last year, blew minds everywhere. What is American design to you, and what excites you about it? American design is ever-evolving. It doesn’t have a defined aesthetic; it has an attitude, energy, and heart. It’s autonomous and ambitious. What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year? We’re finishing the final construction phase for our Gowanus studio, adding another 1,000 square feet of space and growing our team. On the design side of things, we’ll be releasing new product lines in the spring and fall, ranging from outdoor lighting, workplace, and our first line of furniture. What inspires or informs your work in general? Materials and production techniques. The history of interior, furniture, and lighting design. Collaboration. Kindness. Problem solving. PHOTOS BY WILLIAM JESS LAIRD, CLEMENT PASCAL, AND MAX BURKHALTER
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