Industrial Design: Atelier Takagi

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By Jordan Kushins / Published by Dwell
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.

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.

Industrial Design: Atelier Takagi - Photo 1 of 6 - 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."

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."

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."

Industrial Design: Atelier Takagi - Photo 2 of 6 - Takagi's Bluff City pendants are work lights with a kick of color and a hint of copper.

Takagi's Bluff City pendants are work lights with a kick of color and a hint of copper.

Industrial Design: Atelier Takagi - Photo 3 of 6 - The slim profile of Takagi's five-legged American Gothic table debuted at Bernhardt Design's ICFF Studio in 2009.

The slim profile of Takagi's five-legged American Gothic table debuted at Bernhardt Design's ICFF Studio in 2009.

Industrial Design: Atelier Takagi - Photo 4 of 6 - This tripod F/K/A table lamp was one of SoHo staple Matter's inagural MatterMade Collection #1.

This tripod F/K/A table lamp was one of SoHo staple Matter's inagural MatterMade Collection #1.

Industrial Design: Atelier Takagi - Photo 5 of 6 - This little stool was made for milking, with maple legs and leafy seat.

This little stool was made for milking, with maple legs and leafy seat.

Industrial Design: Atelier Takagi - Photo 6 of 6 - Simple utilitarianism at its finest: Takagi's Simple Machines series of stools, benches, and tables in white oak.

Simple utilitarianism at its finest: Takagi's Simple Machines series of stools, benches, and tables in white oak.