American Design Hot List 2016
New York, uhurudesign.com
They launched their design-build furniture studio in 2004, but Uhuru have made major leaps forward recently, scaling up their studio, opening a Manhattan showroom, starting their own contract workplace line, and launching a collection of steel furniture that’s taking their aesthetic in a very new and exciting direction.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
New American design started with the maker movement of the late 1990s and early 2000s, which grew in places where there were empty and underutilized manufacturing spaces, as big companies shipped operations elsewhere or disappeared altogether. The void has been filled by individuals, small companies, and communal shops started by young people out just out of school and not wanting to or being able to get a job at a big company. Instead they’ve cultivated their own style to make their mark. What’s been so exciting is there’s no big industry to define what things should look like — we are defining it as we go.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
We have a few new collections we’re really excited about. One is called Fold (sneak preview pictured above top), and it’s made from solid brass sheets that look as if they’ve been twisted and flattened to create the forms in the collection. It also plays with how faces of a material can age differently as they are exposed to the elements. We’re also continuing to develop our workplace collection, especially the desking system we launched this summer along with three collections of ancillary furniture for the office. These are a refined version of the essentials line we launched two years ago, and although the push will be the workplace market, they really can fit into all kinds of commercial and residential environments. We just moved our Pennsylvania workshop into a new 50,000 square-foot manufacturing space, so we’re really excited about what we’ll be able to produce there as well as the manufacturing jobs we’re hoping to create.
What inspires/informs your work in general?
I would definitely say a constant would be the way nature affects materials over time. I think there’s incredible beauty in capturing that process and bring it into an interior space in a piece of furniture. Right now my kids are also a huge inspiration. To see life through their eyes and to sit and build things with them — whether it’s Legos or a making a crossbow out of wood scraps in my studio — the prospective I’ve gained is tremendous.