At BKLYN DESIGNS 2009: Uhuru

Uhuru’s upcycling is not foreign to us here at 3rings. We’ve covered Uhuru’s tables before, focusing on the young company’s aim of “supporting—and preserving—the communities in which we live and work.” Locally forested woods, along with repurposed, recycled, and biodegradable materials makes Uhuru quite unique. But it’s their designs that have caught our attention time and time again. What they do with their materials based on their ecologically-driven goals is always remarkable.

Stitched Table. Manufactured by Uhuru.

Their offerings at BKLYN DESIGNS 2009 are no different. Three pieces—Stitched Table, Standard Chair, and Metal Stoolen—take Uhuru’s environmentally-conscious design to a new level by introducing strong bursts of color and an “unexpected combination of materials,” producing some of their most adventurous work to date. Uhuru explains that “these pieces edge into the conceptual realm.” Stitched Table transforms a slab of flitch-cut walnut into a statement about rebirth. A seemingly large split has been “fixed” by using four x-shaped “stitches.” Thus, nature’s mistake becomes an opportunity for art. The point can’t be missed, since the stitches and table base are seafoam green, creating a stark contrast with the rich chocolate of the wood. And speaking of transforming errors into successes, Uhuru’s Metal Stoolen does exactly that. What can one make from short lengths of scrap steel? Uhuru’s answer: an interesting stool with odd negative spaces as artful as their positive counterparts, since the holes between steel rods create “a dynamic pattern filled with what the Japanese call ’empty space.’” Again, the use of intense, unexpected color transforms the Metal Stoolen into something alien (particularly alien in bright green).


Metal Stoolen. Manufactured by Uhuru.


Standard Chair. Manufactured by Uhuru.

Standard Chair, however, steals the show. First of all, Uhuru started the chair by using hand-carved backs, cast-offs from a manufacturing company that had gone out of business. To the ornate Louis XVIth carcass, Uhuru added plasma-cut plate steel front legs and a mesh back of aluminum instead of the requisite upholstery. Finished in one of six intense colors, Standard Chair literally and figuratively embodies contradiction. The chair also symbolizes the artistic possibilities of repurposing and recycling. A conglomeration of old and new, traditional and cutting edge, wood and metal, Standard Chair proves that conscious design can also be strikingly odd. It’s the type of strange you don’t at first register, which is the best type of unusualness to be found (since you actually have to look for it).


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