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Industrial Design: Atelier Takagi

After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2002 with a degree in furniture design, Jonah Takagi traveled the world for four years with indie-rock musician Benjy Ferree. When he had time at home in Washington, DC, he picked up side gigs crafting sets and props and tinkered with product one-offs at the studio in his house.

Takagi's Washington DC studio "is basically just part of my house." Amidst the various stages of 3D models and prototypes, "I'd say I don't make that much of a mess."

A lull in his music career coincided with a critical mass of product prototypes, and Takagi decided it was time for a full-scale launch into the design world. In 2007, he established Atelier Takagi—–which as of now remains a one-man operation. “I bought a bunch of 3-D modeling software and just started Googling furniture design competitions,” he says. His American Gothic coffee table—–a five-legged take on the spindled Windsor style—–was chosen for Bernhardt Design’s ICFF Studio in 2009. The exposure gave him a leg up to cold-call shop owners he admired and wanted to work with, like Matter’s Jaimie Gray, who chose two of his pieces for MatterMade’s Collection Number One. His thoughtful work—–stools with legs inspired by broom handles and ceramic pendants suspended by simple metal hooks—– represents his inquisitive, tinkerer’s approach. “I’ve always enjoyed the physicality of making things,” he says.

Takagi is still taking on assignments for set design and other pick-up projects, but he’s increasingly focused on autonomy. “I’d like to do design on my own, without a day job, but most of all I’d like to keep healthy and sane and try to stay inspired.”

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    Young Designers

    Branching out and doing your own thing is a brave and bold move at any time and any age. That said, the 21 visionaries we profile here—–designers 
of interiors, graphics, architecture, exhibitions, furniture, landscapes, 
and communities both online and off—–are all younger than 40 and are building their careers in the United States during an economic recession. Their mediums range wildly, from high-end residential town houses 
to urban postindustrial landscapes, but what they all share are uncommon tenacity and highly personal approaches to blazing their own paths. We’ve found editors who reinvented themselves as unconventional bloggers when their magazine shuttered; community activists who are transforming foreclosed houses in Detroit into models of environmental sustainability; and designers who’ve built burgeoning furniture companies in their own backyards. Neither an exhaustive compendium nor an exclusive best-of list, this roundup is a sampling of rising stars whose work continues to catch our eyes and imaginations. is your online home in the modern world. Join us as we follow our team around the globe on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Want more? Never miss another word of Dwell with our free iTunes app.