Victoria Young and Quang Hong shared a vision: create a design studio where artisans and craftspeople could collaborate and offer their community full transparency on materials and practices while producing high design.
The two artists turned designers weren’t just thinking outside the box when they joined creative forces. They intended to impeccably build the box by hand from the finest locally sourced and sustainable materials using low environmental impact techniques.
In 2014, Young and Hong founded the Tightrope design workshop. Together, they built out a bare Brooklyn warehouse space into an operational workshop for woodworking, welding, and fabrication. They launched with five accent tables, a collection of maple serving boards, and four signature lighting designs: the Blok light, the Q-Bot Classic, the Punkin and the Magnetic Punk.
Today, they have expanded to offer dining tables, seating, shelving, mirrors and home accessories made from solid wood, metal, blown glass, and ceramics.
It was a great pleasure to catch up with Young as NYC enters Phase I for reopening. She shares with us how Tightrope has responded to COVID-19, what is in the works, what is to come, and the importance of supporting small businesses now more than ever.
STAYING TRUE WHILE ADAPTING
Our mission has been and continues to be to provide high quality, handcrafted, sustainable designs. That has not changed, but we have definitely had to adapt on exactly how we continue our mission throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
With the economy slowing down and industry events cancelled or postponed, we sought new ways to engage with our audience and network with members of our industry virtually. Switching solely to the virtual and digital realm has been a challenge, but I’m very thankful for my technologically-adept team who stepped up our digital and social platforms and enhanced our marketing outreach via email campaigns and fresh opportunities to showcase our brand online. And we are extremely thankful for our online customers who continue to support small, local brands like us. We have continued to fulfill orders.
INNOVATION IN ISOLATION
Working from home has allowed me the focused time to develop a custom, eco-friendly wood coloring treatment, which will add deeply pigmented color without hiding the wood. This is a proprietary Tightrope application that is between a stain and a finish, where the color is absorbed into the wood and richly highlights the wood grain. We want to showcase the beauty of the wood itself and that it is lasting, solid wood, not veneer. We believe in making products that last.
Right now I am working primarily with oak. Oak takes stain really well. It is very porous and soaks in color for a deeply pigmented stain. Also, oak is domestic and plentiful in North America, which reduces shipping emissions and does not deplete the tree population.
Victoria in the Tightrope workshop.
DESIGNER COLLABORATION & CUSTOMIZATION
Collaboration is a passion at Tightrope. We love meeting new designers in our area and learning more about their practice. Custom work, studio visits, in-progress updates, and installation management are just a few things we offer to interior designers.
We have also created an exclusive landing page on our website for interior designers where they can request trade pricing, product information, and fill out a custom project application.
For custom work, we are usually working directly with interior designers and architects. However, we love working directly with the customer and customizing pieces for their homes and workspaces.
IN THE LOUPE … NEW PRODUCT LAUNCH
SMALL BUSINESS: STRENGTHENING THE ECONOMY & PROTECTING THE PLANET
Everyone is struggling right now. One thing we are seeing is rising costs of overseas goods and materials, while domestic costs (with some exceptions) have stayed the same. Small, American businesses, like Tightrope, have the ability to provide safer working conditions, better quality of life for their employees, and higher quality products. By shopping small and local, people can support American made goods and small businesses. I think it’s really important to choose how you spend your money, and I hope everyone takes the time to think before clicking “Buy.”
There are many reasons why buying locally lessens your environmental impact. On average, American artisans and makers have safer and healthier working environments, more sustainable material choices, and smaller carbon footprint from shipping than our overseas competitors and large corporations. As American makers, we are held to a higher standard in regard to safety and health. We also have MSDS for our materials which helps inform us to the harms of hazardous materials. By shipping locally and regionally, carbon emissions are much smaller compared to shipping from overseas.
THE DESIGN DOORS ARE OPEN
We did have to start working from home when the first New York restrictions went into place in March. After two months away, I’ve finally been able to come back to the workshop.
Right now, we are working on pieces that will be going down to Mill Collective in High Point, NC and featured alongside the work of other American artisans and makers.
Other than that, the shop is open and we are eager to create and collaborate!
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