The greatest gift social media has brought upon society is the incredible accessibility of information at just a few taps of our fingers. Social media platforms have also become hotbeds for independent designers and artists to share their work with the world, offering an alternative from massive business conglomerates that dominate every industry. The last few years have seen a significant increase in the availability of work from independent furniture designers, as well as no shortage of design minded individuals who sell vintage pieces. The only problem is you have to find them. Social media algorithms can work wonders when it comes to finding new designers, but you really have to prowl for a while before they understand what you like. So, to make things easier for everybody we've compiled some of our recent favorites into a list for your reading pleasure.
Furniture Designers and Sellers to Look Out for on Instagram
Established by Ed Be and Jared Blake in 2017, Lichen is a New York based furniture store and design studio. It's hard to put the brand in such a box, though. The self described mission of Lichen is to "merge the worlds of furniture, interior design, industrial design, music, style, arts and contemporary culture in a way that hadn’t been done before," and so far the project has been a resounding success. Lichen sells a highly curated assortment of vintage furniture, while hosting its own roster of talented designers and producing their work. They also regularly set up events at their workshop in Ridgewood, Queens. Some favorites of ours include Christine Espinal's 'C3' mirror and the 'Split' desk lamp by Alvaro Ucha Rodriguez.
2. Kouros Maghsoudi
Kouros Maghsoudi's work expertly weaves his Persian background into sustainable furniture with postmodern playfulness. His designs begin with a reference to his culture, like the 'Taarof' table, which embodies the Persian tradition of etiquette and generosity. 'Taarof' is a modular cocktail table, complete with a built-in ice bucket, ashtray, and fruit bowl. Other works, like his 'Neo-lounge' chair, fully embrace sustainable practices by emphasizing material consciousness and product life cycle. Every two chairs consumes one entire sheet of aluminum during production, leaving zero waste material.
3. Serban Ionescu
Serban Ionescu is certainly hard to define. The Romanian-born New Yorker bridges the gaps between several kinds of media, straddling the line between art and design. The distinctive look of his pieces derives from his drawing style, which manifests itself as distorted, anthropomorphic versions of common household items. Take 'Carnage', for example, an oblong, barely functional shelf plastered with bright colors that looks like it jumped straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. I love it.
Sweeterfat is an online seller and renter of vintage furniture, founded by two students just out of college. Along with an impeccable eye for beautiful furniture, the duo take incredible photos of the furniture they share, going so far as to create projects out of them. Their most recent, 'Compost', explores the relationship between our built and natural environments, juxtaposing plastic chairs, lamps, and other pieces on a bed of soil and fruit.
5. Sarah Burns
Sarah Burns embraces the softness that design can impart within a home, turning sheets of steel into door pulls and wall hangers that look like they could flop over at any second. The rounded forms of much of her furniture instantly invite the user to take a closer look, and her sometimes haphazard approach makes her products feel distinctly human. It's the subtle details, like the slight misalignment of compartments in her tabletop jewelry box, that truly make's Burns' work feel alive.
6. Evan Wood Giles
Evan Wood Giles is a burgeoning Brooklyn-based furniture studio that just launched its collection in May of this year. Giles' minimal but elevated coffee tables take inspiration from Italian Postmodernism as well as Midcentury Modern design, and are crafted by hand in his Williamsburg studio. Giles has four tables available right now, all riffs on a central concept, and plans to add more varied pieces to the studio's roster as the brand develops in the coming months. Take a look at the tables here.
7. Home Union
Founded by a duo with a background in set design and fashion, Home Union sits at the pinnacle of vintage furniture curation. Their Instagram posts frequently reach viral status, making their curated takes on 60s furniture some of the most popular out there. They stick largely with products designed and produced between the 60s and 80s, during a period where furniture design exploded with fun pops of color and experimental design. It's a nice change of pace from the typical midcentury modern inspiration out there, and if you get the chance definitely visit their store on Graham Ave in Brooklyn.
8. Caleb Woodward
One look at Caleb Woodward's pieces is everything you need to justify his presence on this list. His incredibly detailed wood cabinets and dressers scream innovation, and odder a new outlook on ornamentation within design. Rather than simply adding details for the sake of aesthetics, Woodward's work expertly hides handles underneath the distinctive ridges. Woodward's practice is much more than ornate cabinetry; he specializes in lighting as well as other odd, chimerical furnishings.
9. Seungjin Yang
Odds are you've already seen Seungjin Yang's work all over the internet. His striking furniture pieces look as if they were balloon animals knotted together by the most talented clown you've ever met. But that's because they are. Yang's signature style arose from his unorthodox production methods, in which he dips large balloons into resin, letting each layer dry before the next is applied. Each piece feels like fine china, as though the smallest breath might shatter the perfect balance of a stool or chair. However, everything he makes is incredibly usable, and will hopefully be available for us in our homes one day.
10. Paul Coenen
Paul Coenen's catalog of work is a masterful exercise in simplicity, as he gives life to stainless steel sheets with subtle cuts and curves. His 'Camber' stool is the perfect embodiment of his practice, with narrow slits on either side allowing the material to bend and give itself form. It looks easy, but creating something with that degree of ingenuity out of purely planar material is nothing to scoff at.
11. Facture Studio
Rather than zeroing in on a single discipline, Facture Studio explores the modality of one thing through many different ones: light. The design studio creates beautiful wall art, ranging from utilitarian lighting and shelving units to James Turrell-esque globs of glowing matter. The subtle variations in shade and opacity are mind boggling to look at after a while, and make everything seem like it's some kind of render. I can assure you, though, everything Facture makes is very real, and I want it.
12. Christian Borger
Unfortunately Christian Borger's work isn't for sale yet, but with good reason. Borger's furniture experiments are an incredible step in innovation for the future. Remember that childhood assignment, where everyone was tasked with making the strongest possible tower with the fewest materials? Well, imagine making that your life's work. Borger's 'Ultra-light' series shows the designer crafting functional chairs and other home objects using the least material possible. It's like Poly Bridge in real life, and the work is incredible. Each piece is skeletal in nature, and an intricate weave of tiny wood beams and threads amasses together to create beautiful furniture.
13. Isabel Rower
I'm not quite sure how to describe Isabel Rower's work as anything other than some kind of fairytale fantasy. Objects like her bent stool, chair, and lamps read like they were conceived out of a beautiful acid trip, complete with abstract gradients doodled all over. The contrast between the natural plywood and her charming adornments combine to create work that has definitely never been seen before, and borders between art and design.
14. Sam Stewart
Sam Stewart is a modern cult figure in design, having furnished some of the Lower East Side's coolest spots like Dimes and Café Forgot. Working locally within New York is part of Stewart's signature, and his hyper fixation on the city has allowed the designer to create a distinctive look authentic to himself, and the city. Stewart came up from New York's art scene initially, which resulted in the him using his vast web of connections of talented craftspeople to manufacture his ideas. Stewart's work is a testament to the emotion in design beyond the pure advancement of function.
15. Joyce Lin
Although Joyce Lin herself might not be famous, her work certainly is. Pieces like her 'Exploded' chair are certainly classics for the future, and her artistic take on design evaluates human interaction with our surroundings. Sometimes it's foam peeking from within a chrome painted chair, forcing us to reckon with the environmental impact of materialism and consumption, other times it's a highly polished armchair and lamp that, as your eye draws towards the ground, degrades into soil.