Uhuru is set to open a new 1,000 square-foot showroom that displays their latest War Craft Line alongside older collections. Complementing their beautifully crafted, sustainable work, Tania Johnson's hand-knotted rugs bring another natural accent to the industrial space. Inspired by light, shadow and reflection, her rugs naturally soften the concrete floor and elegantly drape the walls.
Tania Johnson’s designs are greatly influenced by her photographic work of the natural world. Her rugs are tactile experiences that play with light, microscopic detail and texture. Composed of wool, silk and pashmina, the rugs provide a natural surface that varies in feel and look. For instance, from her latest Light collection, Glow incorporates a sleek, green silk core that slowly disintegrates into a matte, indigo wool background. Similar to the natural world, it invites the viewer to get close, inspect the surface and feel beneath it to discover numerous surprises.
Like Uhuru, Tania Johnson is very conscious in her selection of materials. The wool is sourced from the Himalayas and the silk originates in China. The tightly knotted rugs, some with as many as 150 knots per square inch, are also produced under highly regulated conditions. She works with Good Weave to ensure that the rugs are made only by adult artisans and that no child labor is involved. In addition to enforcing fair labor standards, the program helps fund children’s education initiatives and provides support and resources for weaving communities in South Asia.
Johnson has found a U.S. home base with a like-minded team who is also concerned with materials, process and craft. The entire life cycle of products are considered. About 12 people work at Uhuru’s base in Red Hook, Brooklyn and wood is salvaged from a variety of sources. Old, urban trees that get cut down or destroyed by storms are converted into smooth, wide single slab tables. Scraps of wood left from bigger projects in the shop are incorporated into table surfaces that are carefully puzzled together. Wood from the hey days of Coney Island find a second life thanks to a talented team of creative minds.
Uhuru’s latest War Craft Line is constructed from reclaimed teak wood from the deck of the former USS North Carolina. The battleship found its form in the 1930s in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and was used in World War II. Its rich history is uniquely incorporated into each of the designs. The furniture collection simultaneously pays homage to those who serve while acknowledging the scale of modern war craft with its inherent destructive tendencies.
Fans of Uhuru Design can be sure that their purchases are one of a kind. With a set supply of teak from the USS North Carolina, limited editions of twenty are produced of each design and vary slightly in color and grain. They are durable and incorporate aluminum or steel, adding strength and serving as a reminder of the industrial past that greatly shaped this country.
Together, Tania Johnson and Uhuru’s designs bring life to the industrial space with light, texture and pattern. A visit to the showroom demonstrates that careful consideration of history and place can inspire not only unique product designs but also revive spaces that have long been under used.
Images © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat