If you’ve ever been to New York City, you most likely will attest that there’s whole lotta people in not a lotta space… it’s dense, it’s thick, it’s urban, and rubbish is not hard to come by (I just love that word, rubbish)…. well, we all know the saying, “one person’s trash is another’s treasure”… to help turn some of this trash into beautiful, practical, and comfortable treasure is Brooklyn-based furniture company Uhuru.

The design + build studio selects materials that are rejected and reuses, repurposes, reclaims and recycles them into high style works of functional art.  They create everything from beds and lamps to dining and coffee tables…


Pictured here is a close up of the Iris coffee table, made from reclaimed white oak Bourbon Barrels and black steel.

Uhuru was founded in 2004 by Jason Horvath and Bill Hilgendorf, young visionaries who recognized the opportunity to build a truly green company in a city that is becoming more eco-friendly each day.  The concept they wanted to drive home was the idea of ‘upcycling’…. the practice of taking something that is disposable or downcycled and transforming it into something of greater value and use.  Some clear benefits arise from upcycling… obviously waste is spared from landfills.  Materials costs go way down as well… getting your hands on scrap or salvaged materials is considerably cheaper than getting everything brand new.

Uhuru’s line of furniture is both innovative and beautiful… Emphasis is placed on durability and design, ensuring that each product passes the test of time.  After all, there’s nothin’ green about a chair that breaks or looks ugly five years after it was created… and speaking of chairs, let’s look at one… enough of my blabbing!



This is the Bilge Lounge chair, made from reclaimed Bourbon Barrels and used truck springs…. it is undeniably my favorite piece from the collection… the simplicity of materials and construction is amazing, and it looks like it would be really comfortable as well!

Another chair, what is called the Standard, may be Uhuru’s signature piece to date… it is composed of hand-carved wood chairbacks found at an architectural salvage warehouse and powdercoated seat and front legs crafted of plate steel.  The combination of victorian and modern is striking…


Another cool piece is the Metal Stoolen, crafted from locally sourced scrap metal, cut to length, powdercoated, and assembled into a perfect circle.


And finishing off with a dynamite coffee table called the Stitched…. another fave of mine, this table is comprised of a slab of sustainably harvested walnut, split nearly in two, and held together by seafoam green ‘stitches’ that match the recycled metal frame.


All pictures from Uhurudesign.com

Each piece in the Uhuru line is designed and constructed in an old foundry in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn.  Several are listed on their website for sale, and prices are not the cheapest… for example, the Stitched Table shown above is listed at $3,800.  A pretty penny, but not the worst considering everything is designed and hand made from scratch.

So mad props to the crew at Uhuru, who are pulling out all the stops in their quest to be a green machine.  It’s inspiring to see what a handful of creative minds can come up with… makes me want to break out the power tools and do a little dumpster diving of my own!


About Joshua Foss

Joshua is a leading voice for transformational change. He is the editor of Metro Hippie, co-founder and director of development of the Ecala Group, and adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is also an ambassador for the Living Building Challenge and is a frequent speaker at national conferences, trade shows and summits.