American Design Hot List 2023
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, and punched tin, and we’re leaning into those motifs with our upcoming work. MUHLY simplifies these nostalgic ideas into graphic silhouettes that feel almost two-dimensional. We draw on forms that feel familiar and fun, and combine them with materials that allow us to be decorative yet restrained.