Assembly was founded in 2012 by Pete Oyler and Nora Mattingly. Assembly creates high quality objects with a forward-thinking aesthetic. Assembly values art and craft based practices. The more Assembly can know and understand about materials, processes, and techniques, the more creative power Pete and Nora have. From one-of-a kind furniture pieces and objects to small batch production and site-specific interior installations, the approach to design is interdisciplinary in spirit and process. Employing both traditional and experimental techniques, the work is fresh, thoughtful, and made with care.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Assembly is an NYC based design studio, founded in 2012. We create high quality objects with a forward-thinking aesthetic. From one-of-a-kind furniture pieces and objects to small batch production, our approach to design is interdisciplinary in spirit and process.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Nora: We are currently developing a line of self-irrigating planters, to (hopefully) be released Spring of 2015. Our R&D on this product has been a delight—Pete has quite a green thumb and both our apartment and fire escape are covered in plants.
What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other designers are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? While there does seem to be burgeoning interest in American design, financing the research, development, and material experimentation for new products, as well as finding ways to access industrial manufacturing processes on a smaller scale, prove to be consistent challenges.
It seems that efforts are being made to provide broader exposure of independent designers, which (we think) will eventually result in a broader cultural consciousness about the value of creative production. On a more tangible level, here in NYC there are areas of the city that are currently (and rapidly) being developed for small industry.
How did your interest in art or design begin? Pete: My undergraduate work focused on contemporary art history and critical theory. The Bauhaus School proved hugely influential—it was through their history that I learned I wanted to make furniture, not just read and write about the implications of it. After I graduated, I went to a small craft school in North Carolina and studied woodworking. From there I did a two-year apprenticeship with a woodworker in Western MA and eventually received an MFA in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
Nora: My father is a carpenter and fine woodworker so my appreciation for natural materials and handmade objects is deeply rooted in my childhood. It was not until college that I established a studio practice of my own, graduating with a focus in studio arts. Soon after I moved to NYC, I began working as an architect’s assistant. It was during this time that my interest in the arts began to shift towards design. I began taking continuing education classes and went on to receive an MS in Interior Design from Pratt Institute.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? We’re driven by our curiosity about materials and processes. The last body of work we released (this past May) was developed out of a want to highlight common materials and highly skilled hand and machine processes. From glass and pine to aluminum we took common materials and applied both traditional and very experimental techniques to create utilitarian pieces that have a strong yet subtle presence.
Tell us a joke.
Q: How do you make a small fortune in the furniture business?
A: Start with a big one.
What artists or designers are you interested in right now? Faye Toogood, David Chang (chef)
What’s your favorite thing about your city? That it is wildly diverse.
What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? There is a great Japanese spot, Ashbox, right across from our studio in Greenpoint. They have really irregular/unpredictable hours of operation but when they are open, our favorite afternoon snack is their salted kelp onigiri and an iced green tea. So simple, so beautiful, and so delicious.
What are you really excited about right now? Thanksgiving!
What are you listening to right now? Pete: Bok Bok’s most recent EP Your Charizmatic Self
Nora: Serial, the new podcast series from the creators of This American Life