written by:
September 19, 2011

In the October 2011 issue we're spotlighting all of our favorite American-made design. To lend a hand, we've asked Michael and Ruth Storc of the great site Design Patriot to share their top Made in the USA finds with us. This week, they spotlight Muu, which specializes in design for kids.



I had the pleasure of sitting down for a cup of iced coffee with Robert Kwak, the owner, founder, and designer for Muu, a great modern line of furniture for nurseries and kids rooms, manufactured in the US. I was curious about his decision to keep the process stateside, especially considering the extra regulations involved in crib manufacturing which are on top of the more stringent (and some may argue more expensive) worker and environmental regulations that companies must follow to manufacture in the United States.

 

A lawyer by training, Robert left that field looking for other creatively enriching opportunities. He worked for a while in politics and had a chance to experience more of the country than the two coasts on which he had lived. He learned there was more of
A lawyer by training, Robert left that field looking for other creatively enriching opportunities. He worked for a while in politics and had a chance to experience more of the country than the two coasts on which he had lived. He learned there was more of a commonality among the people in the 50 states than he had previously been led to believe. A commonality in what people want for their lives, their homes, and their families.
1 / 8
Robert started Muu in 2008, inspired by the birth of his daughter. While they shopped for furniture for their nursery, everything looked the same after a while. He was interested in starting a business, loved design, was a woodworking hobbyist and saw an
Robert started Muu in 2008, inspired by the birth of his daughter. While they shopped for furniture for their nursery, everything looked the same after a while. He was interested in starting a business, loved design, was a woodworking hobbyist and saw an opening in the crib market. Here is Robert's daughter, Amelia modeling a crib for their first catalog.
Courtesy of 
© Darcy Hemley
2 / 8
The idea was a high-end customizable line of modern kid's furniture. Robert developed a panel system that allows you to change the look and feel of your furniture as tastes change and kids grow—without having to replace the whole piece. Made with magnets,
The idea was a high-end customizable line of modern kid's furniture. Robert developed a panel system that allows you to change the look and feel of your furniture as tastes change and kids grow—without having to replace the whole piece. Made with magnets, the panels are simple to change, no tools or DIY skills required.
3 / 8
The name, Muu, came from a Zen concept: Mu, which, according to Muu's website, "teaches that there is no difference between us and our environment." But in our conversation, Robert relayed that it is also about interconnectedness. He believes this relates
The name, Muu, came from a Zen concept: Mu, which, according to Muu's website, "teaches that there is no difference between us and our environment." But in our conversation, Robert relayed that it is also about interconnectedness. He believes this relates to the connection between the product itself and where it came from (the manufacturer) and where it is going (the customer).
4 / 8
When Robert deciding where to get his fabulous new line of furniture manufactured, it came down to two key words: quality and safety. He found that when he broke down the process of what it would take to insure both of these qualities in his furniture, ma
When Robert deciding where to get his fabulous new line of furniture manufactured, it came down to two key words: quality and safety. He found that when he broke down the process of what it would take to insure both of these qualities in his furniture, manufacturing at home made good sense. Between quality control, shipping costs (and the damages that come from oversea freight), tariffs, and lead time, the cost difference was much less than he thought. Combine that with the pride he felt in the "Made in the USA" label and the decision wasn't difficult at all.
5 / 8
He also takes pride in knowing that the people lovingly creating his pieces are getting paid a living wage, have a 401K, and truly care about the work they do. There are no cultural barriers between the manufacturer and the people for whom they are making
He also takes pride in knowing that the people lovingly creating his pieces are getting paid a living wage, have a 401K, and truly care about the work they do. There are no cultural barriers between the manufacturer and the people for whom they are making the furniture; no language barriers confusing Robert's interactions with the factory. They can also react faster when there are changes in the marketplace or in regulations.
6 / 8
For decades Robert's grandfather Sam, owned two shoe stores that were distributors for the iconic American kids' shoe brand, Stride Rite. He was also a real stickler for quality. The debut line of Muu furniture is named for him. With a great splayed leg b
For decades Robert's grandfather Sam, owned two shoe stores that were distributors for the iconic American kids' shoe brand, Stride Rite. He was also a real stickler for quality. The debut line of Muu furniture is named for him. With a great splayed leg base in two finish options, these pieces are classic and modern with a slightly retro vibe.
7 / 8
Muu's second collection, Ray, was named for two strong women named Ray, Robert's great-grandmother who raised eight kids on the Lower East Side, and Ray Eames. As a father of a daughter, he wanted to give recognition to strong female role models for Ameli
Muu's second collection, Ray, was named for two strong women named Ray, Robert's great-grandmother who raised eight kids on the Lower East Side, and Ray Eames. As a father of a daughter, he wanted to give recognition to strong female role models for Amelia.

Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

8 / 8
A lawyer by training, Robert left that field looking for other creatively enriching opportunities. He worked for a while in politics and had a chance to experience more of the country than the two coasts on which he had lived. He learned there was more of
A lawyer by training, Robert left that field looking for other creatively enriching opportunities. He worked for a while in politics and had a chance to experience more of the country than the two coasts on which he had lived. He learned there was more of a commonality among the people in the 50 states than he had previously been led to believe. A commonality in what people want for their lives, their homes, and their families.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

Modern white cabinets under the stairs with skylight above
What could be better than a modest-sized house in a quaintly historic city?
February 11, 2016
dining room lighting
These renovations connect rustic, classic, and modern design in Italy.
February 10, 2016
12362509 211441865858796 1743381178 n1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most viral design and architecture shots of the week.
February 10, 2016
modern outdoor garden room plastic polycarbonate
From colorful living rooms to a backyard retreat, Belgian designers reimagine vernacular forms and materials for the modern world.
February 10, 2016
Tel Aviv kitchen with custom dining table and Smeg fridge
Would you go for an out-of-the-box palette for your major appliances? See how these kitchens tackle the trend.
February 10, 2016
Exhibition view, of Klaus Wittkugel works at P! gallery, New York
On view through February 21 at New York's P! gallery, a new show explores the politics of Cold War-era graphic design with a presentation of works by Klaus Wittkugel—East Germany's most prolific graphic designer. Curator Prem Krishnamurthy walks us through the highlights.
February 10, 2016
Reclaimed cedar and gray-stucco home outside San Francisco.
The new kid on the block in a predominantly Eichler neighborhood, this Menlo Park home breaks the mold and divides into three pavilions connected by breezeways.
February 10, 2016
A third floor addition and whole-house renovation modernized a funky cottage on an unusual, triple-wide lot in San Francisco.
From modern interiors hidden within historic structures to unabashedly modern dwellings, these seven renovations take totally different approaches to San Francisco's historic building stock.
February 10, 2016
Delphi sofa from Erik Jørgensen and gyrofocus fireplace in living room of Villa Le Trident in the French Riviera, renovated by 4a Architekten.
The Aegean's all-white architecture famously helped inspire Le Corbusier; these five dwellings continue in that proud modern tradition (though not all are as minimalist).
February 10, 2016
San Francisco dining room with chandelier and Eames shell chairs
Brooklyn-based RBW's work—from diminutive sconces to large floor lamps—shape these five interiors.
February 09, 2016
Glass-fronted converted garage in Washington
These garages go behind parking cars and storing your drum sets.
February 09, 2016
Modern Texas home office with sliding walls, behr black chalkboard paint, concrete walls, and white oak flooring
From appropriated nooks to glass-encased rooms, each of these modern offices works a unique angle.
February 09, 2016
picnic-style table in renovated San Francisco house
From chandeliers to pendants, these designs make the dining room the most entertaining space in the house.
February 09, 2016
Midcentury house in Portland with iron colored facade and gold front door
From preserved masterworks to carefully updated time capsules, these homes have one thing in common (other than a healthy appreciation for everything Eames): the conviction that the '40s, '50s, and '60s were the most outstanding moments in American architecture.
February 09, 2016
Modern living room with furniture designed by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba
These oases by the sea, many done up in white, make stunning escapes.
February 08, 2016
A Philippe Starck standing lamp and an Eames chaise longue bracket the living room; two Lawrence Weiner prints hang behind a pair of Warren Platner chairs and a table purchased from a River Oaks estate sale; at far left of the room, a partial wall of new
Texas might have a big reputation, but these homes show the variety of shapes and sizes in the Lone Star State.
February 08, 2016
Montigo gas-burning fireplace in spacious living room.
Built atop the foundation of a flood-damaged home, this 3,000-square-foot Maryland home features vibrant furniture placed in front of stunning views of a nearby estuary.
February 08, 2016
Studio addition in Seattle
An architect couple sets out to transform a run-down property.
February 08, 2016
West Elm coffee table, custom Joybird sofa, and matching Jens Risom chairs in living room of Westchester renovation by Khanna Shultz.
Every Monday, @dwell and @designmilk invite fans and experts on Twitter to weigh in on trending topics in design.
February 08, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment living room vertical oak slats
For the modernists among us, these spare spaces are a dream come true.
February 08, 2016
The square fountain at the courtyard's center is a modern rendition of a very traditional feature in many Middle Eastern homes.
From a large gathering space for family or a tranquil sanctuary, these seven designs feature some very different takes on the ancient idea of a courtyard.
February 08, 2016
stdaluminum 021
Since windows and doors are such important aspects of your home, it’s always a good idea to take the time to evaluate how they fit within the lifestyle you want. Whether you’re in the middle of constructing a new home, or you’re considering replacing your current setup, there are multiple elements to consider when it comes time to make the final decisions. Milgard® Windows & Doors understands how vital these choices are to the well-being of your home and has developed ways to turn the process into a journey that can be just as enjoyable as it is fulfilling. Not sure where to start? We gathered some helpful insights from their team of experts to help us better understand what goes into the process of bringing your vision to life.
February 08, 2016
modern fire resistant green boulder loewen windows south facade triple planed low-e glass
These houses in Broncos Country prove modern design is alive in the Rocky Mountains.
February 08, 2016
french evolution paris daniel rozensztroch living area eames la chaise butterfly chair moroccan berber rug
A tastemaker brings his distinct vision to an industrial loft with a centuries-old pedigree.
February 07, 2016
senses touch products
The haptic impact can’t be underplayed. The tactility of a material—its temperature, its texture­—can make the difference between pleasure and discontent.
February 07, 2016
senses taste products
Ambience is a key ingredient to any meal—materials, textures, and mood all impart a certain flavor.
February 07, 2016
senses smell products
The nose knows: Though fleeting and immaterial, scent is the lifeblood of Proustian memories, both evoking and imprinting visceral associations.
February 06, 2016
design icon josef frank villa beer vienna
Josef Frank: Against Design, which runs through April 2016 at Vienna’s Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, is a comprehensive study of the prolific architect, designer, and author.
February 06, 2016
senses sound products
From an alarm to a symphony, audio frequencies hold the power to elicit an emotional call-and-response.
February 06, 2016
Italian Apline home with double-height walls on one facade.
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
February 05, 2016