Furniture designers Katrina Vonnegut and Brian Kraft are constantly creating. In their Chatham, NY studio, furniture comes to life, prototype to reality at their hands. “We’re always working. Our studio was our first baby, and now we have two real babies,” Katrina says, adding that they are also in the midst of renovating a 19th century eyebrow colonial home. “Some people might be good at having boundaries with their work and personal life, but when it’s your own studio, the thing that you’ve sacrificed so much to pursue and maintain, there isn’t really a solid separation.”
The creative couple met on the G train in New York City and recognized they had a mutual friend as well as a common interest in making furniture—Katrina studied furniture design at RISD, and Brian, self-taught, did custom millwork. A few months into dating, Brian asked Katrina to collaborate on a project. Many more followed. “It was a lot of custom millwork built-ins,” Katrina says. “But, I had always yearned for something like a little bit more creative, outside of just fabrication.”
So, in 2014, the duo shifted to developing their own design language and further establishing their studio, Vonnegut/Kraft. Merging their curiosity and material expertise, Katrina and Brian invent new forms, abstractions of organic shapes, nature, and the human body.
One piece that speaks to Katrina in particular is the Bow chair, designed for the Egg Collective “Mothers” exhibition this year. The chair riffs off of the lines of the Relevé Stool and Bow Dining Tables with its gently settled curves. “It’s kind of growing out of itself, out of this rectilinear form,” Katrina says.
These distinct Vonnegut/Kraft lines are also at home in more architectural features, beginning with Katrina and Brian’s work in the new Soho Bottega Veneta store. The studio was tasked with creating furniture for the store, based loosely off of their Mesa Table. Once the furniture was completed, they were asked to echo the same visual language in custom facade elements, like door handles and signposts.
“It’s really fun to see how some of our furniture design details can be adapted for architectural elements,” Katrina says. “That’s new for us, and kind of takes us back to when we were doing custom millwork elements.” Inspired, Katrina and Brian are beginning to work on architectural details and interiors as a branch of the studio. One of the first places they get to put this to work is in the renovation of their colonial home upstate.
Besides offering more space compared to their old Brooklyn studio, the move upstate also changed Vonnegut/Kraft’s approach to releasing new work. Since the pandemic, they stopped planning drops around design fairs or festivals, releasing furniture on their own time instead.
In the spring, we should get a taste of what they’ve been working on. Katrina hints at future experimentation with glass and light, upholstery and cast metal, and even carved stone in a collaboration with some friends who design jewelry. “I’m interested in how to find a marriage between those materials and what we’re already doing as a foundation in the studio,” Katrina says. “Not reinventing, but applying and using elements together.”