The Lindheimer Credenza from Muhly is one example of the Austin furniture design community's creativity. (Photo by Molly Culver)
Kathleen Desk by Maček Furniture (Photo by Aaron Fox and Leslie Webb)
Flecto Fire Pit by Muhly (Photo by Kate LeSueur)
Lineage Bench by Muhly (Photo by Kate LeSueur)
Concho Table by Yucca Stuff (Photo by Joe Kramm)
Odessa Table by Yucca Stuff (Photo by Phil Jackson)
Detail on Odessa Table by Yucca Stuff (Photo by Phil Jackson)
Central Texas design has experienced many celebrated eras. From the Texas Rangers architects of the 1950s to a slew of well-known contemporary architects in the late 20th century from The University of Texas School of Architecture – think Craig Dykers, James Dodson and Michael Hsu – Austin design has been widely acclaimed.
But there is currently another design scene flourishing in and around Austin: furniture design.
Thanks to Austin’s innovative environment, many creatives – particularly those from more traditional design and architecture backgrounds – have found themselves working on a smaller, more intimate scale.
In this story, we’ll look into the odysseys of three distinct furniture design companies, delving into their practices and the larger furniture design community in Austin, to gain a deeper understanding of the industry.
The journey begins with Muhly, a new company founded in 2021 by two women designing for their interests – receiving much attention in the process. Next, meet Yucca Stuff, an exciting company tastefully experimenting with mixed materials and fully hitting its stride in year eight.
Veteran design shop Maček Furniture brings it home. After 28 years, it is still producing high quality custom furniture led by an integral member of the industry in Central Texas.
Lifelong Friends Showcase Contemporary Design at Muhly
Only a few years since its founding, Muhly – named after a native grass near Bastrop, Texas – is a furniture design studio founded by Ann Edgerton and Megan Carney. Lifelong friends since the summer camp days, Edgerton and Carney hail from interior, furniture and architectural design backgrounds.
One highly admired piece, the Lindheimer Credenza, is a contemporary reinterpretation of a classic. The gentle notches in the sliding doors speak the same language as the base. Both the natural grain and cross section of the wood accentuate its material qualities.
While most of the work is beautiful wood construction, Edgerton and Carney are also experimenting with other materials, like steel for outdoor furniture pieces. The powder-coated Lineage Bench and stainless steel Flecto Fire Pit are two new items creating additional settings for Muhly’s work.
When discussing their design approach, Edgerton and Carney mention their “iterative process with lots of hand drawings” that filters weaker designs.
Conceived from a desire for personal furniture, the items have garnered immense public interest. The Muhly team has worked with many interior designers, including the famed Kelly Wearstler, in addition to commercial clients like upscale Mexican restaurant La Condesa in downtown Austin.
Yucca Stuff Pairs Texas Sensibility With Material Contrasts
With five full-time employees, Yucca Stuff takes its name, furniture line and material palette from a Texas-centric regional sensibility.
After education and training in architecture, founder Daniel Morrison gravitated toward smaller scale design. Combined with being a self-taught woodworker since the age of 13, his talents and interests were unearthed.
When asked about his products’ design intent and language, Morrison’s reply was a question that he frequently ponders: “What’s the most beautiful way that I can get these two materials to come up and greet one another in space?”
The paired contrast of materials – notably domestic hardwoods and limestone – is a large part of Yucca Stuff’s uniqueness. The coexistence of a porous limestone base – which Morrison had never seen in a furniture application – and hardwood tabletop is resolved through a slot and notch intersection. It creates the nested Odessa Coffee Table’s soft shape.
The popular Concho Table is another example of an interface negotiation where the wood elegantly rests on the limestone.
Morrison’s design process begins with an emphasis on a material’s compositional and aesthetic strengths. This deliberate approach brought success in 2022, when Yucca Stuff launched two existing products with Design Within Reach. It also headlined its first solo show with partner gallery Future Project.
Morrison has joined forces with Kelly Wearstler and fashion house DIOR. The Concho Table appears throughout East Asia, the Middle East and at DIOR’s flagship location in New York.
As a passionate and dedicated designer, Morrison is always intrigued by what materials he can use for furniture. Up next? Mexican lava stone.
A Quarter Century of Quality Is Maček Furniture’s Trademark
Mark Maček, who also hails from an architectural background, discovered a passion for woodworking’s tactile nature over architecture’s time-consuming design process. Twenty-eight years later, Maček Furniture is still designing beautiful custom pieces.
After creating a manuscript cabinet for his writer father while studying at UTSOA, Maček’s stepmother suggested he pivot to vocational training. Afterwards, he worked for renowned woodworker Louis Fry.
Maček’s design intent stems from functionality, an ethos he developed through years of experience. Thanks to the custom nature of his work, he has amended his design language and vocabulary over time. However, Maček still retains a level of craft and knowledge that is undeniably his own.
Over his quarter century of work, Maček has collaborated with countless architects and designers. He cites an ease in their shared vocabulary, like the design collaboration with Ann Tucker on the Kathleen Desk. This desk – with two versions made in figured and straight-grain walnut – boasts soft curves throughout and a partial leather desktop.
Maček loves the idea of ambidexterity as a designer and artisan, as well as a self-employed professional and academic. (He teaches a wood design course at UTSOA; Daniel Morrison is a former student.)
Maček admits that he never expected his career to include teaching, but is amazed by “young designers with energy and ideas.” He is constantly excited to teach the cerebral and physical skills of woodworking.
Austin Furniture Design Community Flourishes
Each of the highlighted companies share a love for and participation in Austin’s furniture design community.
Muhly, Yucca Stuff and Maček Furniture operate out of The Splinter Group, a large maker space wood shop in East Austin. With space for 25 tenants and 40 artisans, the communal workshop is the heart of the region’s best furniture designers. The Splinter Group shines for its empowering and inspiring environment and the free exchange of experience and ideas.
Thanks to his many years of experience, Maček is one of the wood shop’s three managers.
“There is no way to quantify the importance of collective, affordable spaces” for the woodworkers, metalworkers and ceramicists that call The Splinter Group home, according to Maček.
Maček recognizes that craft is about community. They are all “part of the local network of makers, suppliers, and enthusiasts” that rely on each other.
Cole Von Feldt is an architectural designer, photographer and writer educated in Austin and Copenhagen and trained in New York and Houston. He currently lives and works in New York.