Little suits a designer more than to be given a project with few if any guidelines. Such was the case when Assembly Design, a New York-based product studio, handed over one of their U-frame chairs to Brooklyn-based textiles duo New Friends.
"We knew that we wanted to work with a weaver on this project, as the frame of the chair is not dissimilar to a simple loom," says Assembly cofounder Pete Oyler, who outsourced the weaving to Kelly Rakowski and Alexandra Segreti (disclosure: Rakowski is a photo editor at Fast Company) of New Friends. "Both of our studios pull from traditional craft methodologies but use experimental processes," he tells Co.Design.
Oyler gave the pair minimal guidelines. With that license to create, New Friends decided to work with sources Rakowski says they hadn’t used before, but had "always been obsessed with": leather and sheep shearling. They marbled strips of leather (with paint), and interspersed them with natural pieces of tanned leather, creating an archaic checkerboard on the upright, high back. The shearling upholstery creates a cozy seat, and adds to what Rakowski describes as the "mystical" and "earthly" look of the US chair.
Mystical, indeed: Only 10 US Chairs exist, so acquiring one (for $2,700) will be a magical occurrence in its own right. That’s by design—Oyler says Assembly wants to keep their work fresh, and will find ways to apply the collaboration to future pieces, including tables.