At AD Home Design Show: Uhuru’s Upcycing

Long gone are the days one could save a small fortune living in Brooklyn rather than Manhattan. Brooklyn has established itself as a destination, an international leader in cultural innovation, and its success is undoubtedly due, at least in part, to its design community. From jewelry to furniture, Alexis Bittar to Uhuru, designers are not only designing there, but also manufacturing there as well.

Striper End Table. Designed by Uhuru Design.

Brooklyn-pride runs high, and outsourcing is not looked upon kindly. “Uhuru is a small design + build furniture company dedicated to sustainability and creating timeless designs.”  Their beautiful, high quality products made from materials “reclaimed, recycled, repurposed, reused, or otherwise rejected from their original function” are on display this week at the AD Home Design Show in New York City. Upcycling, a term coined by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, authors of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things is defined as “The practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value.”  If one were to define Uhuru in one word, it is likely this would be it.  Striper End Table, a personal favorite of mine, is made of collected scraps from local workshops.  These scraps, in most circumstances become sawdust or show up in a dump somewhere; they are generally considered a worthless item. 



Stoolen Table. Designed by Bill Hilgendorf of Uhuru Design.

This practice of reuse, the ultimate in sustainability, is similar to that of Scrap Lab which is producing pieces of from scraps of upholstery and metal.  In Uhuru’s Striper Table, the “scraps,” which vary both in width and in depth, are aligned to create a smooth surface while allowing the underside of the table to become a topography of sorts.  When viewed from the side, table’s edge looks like a bar graph. “Grain, color and natural characteristics will be different with every Striper End table making each project truly one of a kind.”

The Stoolen Table is the “original Uhuru item and the base on which (they) grew the company.”  Designed by Bill Hilgendorf, one of the firm’s founders,  the table is composed of craps collected from local workshops and found bicycle rims (optional).  For another story about Uhuru, see last summer’s post about the #1020 Beam Coffee Table exhibited at Bklyn Designs 2008. For other items at the AD Home Design Show 2009, check out Natuzzi’s Sound Chair, the Kauri Series by Solinglass, David Stine’s Lauder Table, and Rich Brilliant Willing’s Excel Floor Lamp.

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