When it comes to making elegant and functional custom furniture that lasts, New York-based interior designer Drew McGukin turns to Atlanta-based Bjork Studio headed by furniture designer Amy Wikman. Their collaboration sometimes resembles a friendly tug-of-war, sometimes a sibling spat.
That creative tension results in furniture designs that celebrate both form and function.
Design equals collaboration
“Design is about as many eyes and as many thoughts and as many layers as you can pull together and then you can peel it back and edit it,” McGukin said of his working style. He’s not an expert at furniture design, but as an interior designer he knows what he wants a piece of furniture to bring to a space.
Enter Wikman and her years of furniture design experience. Bjork Studio takes an artisan approach to furniture construction, using only kiln-dried hardwood frames and eight-way spring-tied construction.
Wikman brings an eye for design and practicality, “I approach it from an architectural point of view and ask what’s needed to build the structure of the piece,” she said.
Together they work on the form and the function of the piece before entertaining ideas about fabric for the upholstery.
Making a curved swivel chair
Inspiration for the McSwivels, a name Wikman bestowed on the two curved back swivel chairs in McGukin’s Perspective New York interior design vignette, came from a pair of vintage chairs McGukin found at a furniture market.
He liked their scale, but wanted them to swivel and be fully upholstered. Building out from the original chairs, the duo came up with a design perfect for a city apartment. Wikman guided McGukin’s creative impulses, especially when it came to the chair’s upholstery.
McGukin resisted the idea of contrast welting, but Wikman knew the pattern in the Sunbrella fabric he chose, Nairobi Oasis by Holly Hunt, would be difficult to line up perfectly on all of the chair’s angles and curves. The yellow Sunbrella fabric, Optima Goldenrod by Robert Allen, gives the chair definition and connects to other yellow interior design elements in his interior design vignette.
Surround yourself with good people
Like his collaboration with Wikman and her Bjork Studio team, McGukin strives for partnerships that will help him learn and grow, as well as be successful in interior design. When he signed on to create an interior design vignette for Sunbrella’s Perspective New York, he knew he was in good company.
And he learned something new about Sunbrella that he can carry into future interior design work.
“It’s a beautiful fabric and to be able to have that dimensionality and the differences in the types of fabrics that are (in my vignette), you really can see how you can create a beautiful space,” he said. “And it’s all Sunbrella. It’s very elegant. It’s fun. It’s poppy, but there’s a level of sophistication to it.”
Find out more about the sophisticated Sunbrella fabrics in McGukin’s interior design vignette in the décor guide .