When and how was the studio created?
Bill and Jason met as classmates in the industrial design department of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). At the time, Bill was working in Brooklyn for a cabinet maker, and Jason was working in Manhattan for an interior design firm. When a space became available in the building that Bill was working in, we jumped at the opportunity and Uhuru was born.
How has the studio evolved?
Uhuru started out in a space only a little bigger than 100 sq meters. In our early days, we did mostly custom jobs; a lot of our work came from the design firm that Jason was working at. Now we have a shop space of over 500 sq meters, including full wood and metal shop and design office. Most of the work that we do now is from our lines of furniture.
What obstacles have you encountered?
It is hard to start and run a business. We never learned much about business in design school, so there was a lot of trial and error in the beginning. Not only do you have to be really good at what you do, you also have to know about everything: from accounting to marketing. There isn’t a lot of support for small businesses, so you’re pretty much on your own.
Which are the most important projects you have worked on?
Over the years we have worked on many projects that have helped us to define and refine our style. The Solare chair, which was designed for a model apartment in the first green residential high rise in the country, was one of those projects. The most definitive move as of yet was participating in this years Brooklyn Designs Trade Show. There we were able for the first time to present our style as a cohesive line, and to push our passion for ecologically sustainable materials.
Which is your favorite piece and why?
Right now Stoolen is our favorite piece. the materials for this are scraps of wood that are bound for the trash. We gather them from local wood shops and put them together, held simply in compression by a found bicycle rim. We love to work with reclaimed materials. Particularly materials that have been rejected. To be able to breathe life into objects, and to give them a new meaning an purpose is truly gratifying.