New Kid on the Block: Uhuru

Uhuru tableThe Red Hook–based design firm Uhuru has converted an artist’s studio—with the paint still on the floor to prove it—into a showroom/store. Previously, the brand’s furniture was mainly purchased through its Brooklyn office (with a few pieces at ABC Carpet & Home), so this is the first chance to really experience the work before committing to it.

“We’re a design-build furniture studio, meaning we design and build the furniture ourselves,” says senior account manager Ariel Clay. When Bill Hilgendorf and Jason Horvath founded the brand in 2004, the emphasis was on reclaimed materials because it was a way to source inexpensively. Now, as the company has grown, the ethos is about elevating materials—whether it’s bourbon barrels, snow fence, or planks from the Coney Island boardwalk that the city was tossing out—and being conscious about how much they use (such as repurposing wood scraps for their Stoolen design, above right). Consequently, the pieces in the showroom tend to have a story, such as the stools carved from Domino Sugar Factory beams and a rope from the Red Hook docks.

The space is 2,000 square feet on each of its two floors. At the rear of the ground floor is a lounge; besides additional sales floor, downstairs will have a kitchen and some office space.

In September, Uhuru officially launches its line of jewelry for women and men, but you can get a preview (and buy a piece) now. Beyond that, there are plans for more of an outdoor line and leather goods.

P.S. The name is pronounced ooh-hoo-roo, and I’ve added it to the Try-Beck-Uh Pronunciation Guide. The word is Swahili for “freedom,” although Hilgendorf and Horvath appear to have been as influenced by the reggae group Black Uhuru as anything.

Uhuru is at 74 Franklin (between Church and Broadway), 212-882-1581;

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