Everyday objects take on artful shapes in the creations of UMÉ Studio. Founded by designers Mei-Lan Tan and Victor Lefebvre, the Oakland-based studio elevates traditional household items in limited run, functional pieces that skirt the line of art and utility.
“The crux of our design philosophy is rooted in three fundamentals: art, craft, and function. When you make these three 'pillars' coexist together, not allowing one to be more important than another — but rather existing for themselves in a dialogue — then you enable a resonance. We strive for that resonance."
While the outcome is obviously beautiful, each piece is much more than the final design with extensive thought put into every aspect of its creation. Using traditional processes, the designers travel the globe to utilize the highest quality materials and expertise to complete the finished product. “The inspiration for a particular design comes from the craftsmanship we see in the world — and the necessary craftsmanship for an individual piece leads us to a material since it is the craft that draws us, and the material is tied to the craft,” says Mei-Lan.
Leveraging conventionally durable materials like concrete for their Concrete Series of bowls and Salle de Bain Trays, and the opposing delicacy of spun Washi for their Draped-Flowers Curtain or sculptural soap in their Erode Soap Summits, UMÉ Studio showcases the range of their craft and the weight placed on both the form and function in design.
While each series is created in limited numbers, the studio is just getting started. Their global reach is expanding and their next project is taking them to Kyoto, Japan, where they are collaborating with a family-owned business that has been making futons since the early 20th century. "We are really looking forward to showcasing their craft as part of our next collection." And we cannot wait to see what's to come.