Dwell Magazine upcoming designers to watch Victor LeFebre and Mei-Lan Tan, founders of UME Studio in Oakland, created collections of purposeful, tactile objects that intersect art and function. From their Oakland studio, they venture out nomadically across the world to learn century-old skills and techniques.
Through their travel, artisan workshops, and immersion of local culture, they built a network and skills to create home objects for everyday living. Traditional crafts meet contemporary tastes in the designs of these objects.
The designers LeFebre and Tan gained valuable experience at Herzog & De Meuron and Kengo Kuma that they apply at the UME Studio. The design process that is underlying the work at these design practices shines through all of the creations of the objets d’art. Often the use is derived from its making and most of them are handmade.
The series of three plates and coasters ‘Button’ is cast in one pour and the Salle de Bain tray series that is almost architectural in its detail is cast in concrete. They speak of incredible expertise and highest quality of materials.
Stretching the understanding of balance is the core of the Concrete series. 104 unique bowls bring the tension between heavy concrete and its delicate edge to the forefront of consciousness. Heavy or delicate question durability and fragility of the material and these products. The bowls are poured by hand to inspire the imagination of the viewer.
Influences of Ubud, Bali, Oakland, USA, and Versailles, France, inform the creation of new creations like Sake Tampo Silver Cups, handcrafted and perfected in just one short year. The Erode Soap series has very distinct, unique forms that are poured and cast by hand, and present elegant solutions. So does the Candle Pit.
The latter is an experimentation and limited edition of wax and casting techniques interpretations. Reminding of the Icelandic landscapes, the candles keep changing shapes and appearances during the process of burning.
The designer duo at UME Studio also ventured out into the area of furniture where they continue the precarious balance between sturdiness and whimsical. The Paper Tables are crafted from paper-thin sheets of metal. Based on Oakland’s history of blacksmithing, the minimal design of the table and its V legs, lets the eye linger to comprehend the incredible craftsmanship and harmony of the piece.
UME Studios may be based in the USA, but the products unite experiences and influences from around the globe. The contemporary designs ignite a conversation between art and design in any modern style.
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Source: photos of UME Studio are courtesy of v2com, photo credits: UME Studio, Jeffrey Cross Photography, William Boice