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  • Writer's pictureObject of Reference

Classic and Contemporary pieces by DuroDeco

Based in New York City, durodeco is a design studio co-founded by architect Rachel Robinson and structural engineer Michael Dunham. They create contemporary spaces, furniture, and objects that evoke a timeless warmth. Fascinated by their innovative work, I reached out to Rachel and Michael with some questions and this is what they had to say. Object of Reference: What is in the core of your brand and how would you define your interior design style? DURODECO: At its core, our brand is about creating objects and spaces that are contemporary in form and use, but that achieve timelessness and lasting quality through their material palette and craft. In our furniture designs, we achieve this by using familiar and classic materials such as marble, glass, and wood, but turning them into geometric forms that have not been seen before or material combinations that are unexpected. In our interior design work, we mix contemporary and antique/vintage pieces to create a classic warmth with surprisingly modern elements.

Object of Reference: What is the definition of “good design” according to you? DURODECO: To us, “good design” is both thoughtful and well-crafted. By thoughtful, we mean that beauty can’t be sacrificed in the pursuit of pure functionality, and similarly, a designed object that looks beautiful but isn’t useful or purposeful is also a missed opportunity. The second aspect of good design to us is craft: wellmade objects or spaces stand the test of time and inherently exhibit a deep respect for the materials and makers behind them.

Object of Reference: Tell me a little bit about yourselves and your background. Did you always wanted to be involved with design? Rachel: My background is in architecture, which I have always found to be a unique combination of science and art. Prior to finding architecture as an educational and career path, I always felt I would need to choose between a science-oriented field and an art-oriented one. What I’ve found is that architecture is truly a combination of technical and aesthetic pursuits. Michael: I studied civil engineering, and then focused specifically on structural engineering once I moved to New York. Within that field, you develop a deep understanding of materials and their inherent properties, which translates well into the more hands-on practice of furniture design and fabrication.

Object of Reference: When it comes to designing a new piece are there any basic “rules” that you always follow, and if so what are those? DURODECO: When we’re designing a new piece, our rules go back to our definition of “good design.” We only designpieces that we feel are both beautiful and functional. For example, we would never design a chair that’s only meant to be looked at as an art object. We also focus on combining materials in ways that best exemplify their inherent properties, even if that’s a non-traditional application of a material. For example, we often use glass as a structural element because it’s quite strong, despite its reputation for being fragile.

Object of Reference: What would your dream project be? DURODECO: One of our dream projects would be to work on a large scale “adaptive reuse” design that completely revamps an existing, historical structure with a contemporary interior for a new purpose. We’ve always felt that this kind of layered approach to design, where older projects with a rich history can be reinvented for a present-day use, are the most interesting and important types of work.

Object of Reference: What are you working on at the moment, and what is coming up for the brand? DURODECO: Right now, we’re working on a series of chairs that show the development of a single design over time. Rather than show only the result, we thought it would be interesting to show a series of objects that relate to each other and represent the various stages of design thinking behind our work. They will look cohesive as a set but exhibit different forms and ideas about composition and function. To find out more about duro deco go to their website at or follow them on Instagram @durodeco . Also if you enjoyed this blogpost go ahead and forward it to another Design lover and don’t forget to subscribe to my Newletter and be the first one to be notified when a new blogpost is up.

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