Egg Collective unveiled an armchair version of its Densen dining chair during New York design week earlier this month. Crafted from walnut or bleached maple, the chair features a cushion wrapped in cream-coloured cowhide with tufts of hair.
The designers said a vintage backpack hanging in their workshop likely influenced the upholstery choice. "It's a Swiss Army backpack from World War II," said Hillary Petrie, one of the studio's three founders. "They made them out of leather but left the hair on. We've had this backpack on our wall for awhile. I'm thinking that it seeped into our consciousness."
The new Russell dining table is offered in walnut, bleached maple, and blackened or natural white oak. While the four-year-old studio has two other dining tables in its collection — the Henry and Oscar, both made of metal and stone — the Russell marks its first wooden dining table. "We wanted it to reference a farm table in its style," said studio co-founder Crystal Ellis.
It comes with four or six legs, or more if requested. "Most of our pieces are customisable," Ellis said.
Egg Collective also presented a freestanding version of its Hangar bookshelf. An earlier iteration was designed to be placed atop a sideboard. "When we designed the Hangar, it was a modular piece that came in sections," said Ellis. "We had in mind that it could come in different configurations."
The bookshelf is made of walnut, bleached maple, or white oak. While sculptural in form, the unit features welded-bronze uprights, which enable its "crisp" lines, said Petrie.
During New York design week, Egg Collective showed work at the Collective Design Fair and Wanted Design exhibition. The studio was named the inaugural winner of the American Design Honors Program, an initiative started by Wanted and the US furniture company Bernhardt Design.
Known for it handcrafted, contemporary pieces, Egg Collective was launched in 2011 by Petrie, Ellis and Stephanie Beamer, all of whom studied architecture but migrated toward industrial design. The firm opened a showroom in Manhattan this April.
Driven by a desire to create heirloom-quality furniture, the designers make all of their pieces by hand in their Brooklyn workshop. "We make them one at a time," said Ellis. "We want our pieces to have staying power, in terms of how they're constructed and also how they look. Hopefully they'll become timeless."
The three founders met in the early 2000s while studying architecture at Washington University in St Louis. "Each of us ended up taking a furniture course and we loved the hands-on aspect of it," said Petrie. "We didn't necessarily know we'd make a career out of it."
They went their separate ways after graduating in 2006. Ellis studied sculpture at Rhode Island School of Design, Beamer worked with fabricators in New York, and Petrie ran a mill machine at a New Orleans cabinet shop. The three kept in touch, ultimately reuniting in New York to launch their atelier, which produces furniture, lighting and homeware.
In 2012, Egg Collective was named the Best New Designer at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York, where it debuted its first collection. The firm later licensed its Harvey mirror and Morrison storage units to Design Within Reach.
With the exception of the licensed pieces, the designers said they handle all aspects of their business: designing, making, selling. During New York design week, they spoke with other designers from around the globe.
"Everyone was just so surprised that we not only design our work, but we also make it and sell it — everything from inception to getting it to the front door," said Petrie, adding that it's a business model that seems unique to the United States.
"I hope it catches on," she said. "It offers a whole different range of possibilities."