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A robot made of wood? NY-based David Weeks puts a non-traditional spin on the battery-operated plastic and metal robots we all grew up on with Cubebot. Ancient Japanese Shinto Kumi-ki puzzles are the inspiration behind these hard-playing hardwood-and-elastic figures. David sources sustainably harvested, new-growth beech wood for each of the toys in his ongoing series. Position Cubebot every which way—including into a perfect cube. Guthrie and Julien (he of the pointy noggin') are the latest in the series. The Super-sized Cubebot is signed by the designer, whose stunning lights and furnishings have become collectible among design fans.
DAVID WEEKS STUDIO
Atlanta-born David Weeks originally planned a career as a painter and sculptor after studying at the Rhode Island School of Design. But a New York apprenticeship with jewelry designer Ted Muehling changed all that. David applied his newfound metalworking skills to lighting design and quickly expanding into furniture and home accessories, with commissions for the likes of Barneys New York, Kate Spade and The W Hotels. Yet, in many circles, he's best known for a certain wooden toy gorilla.
"I've said it was a cry for help," David remembers. Business was going great but, in a pensive moment, he decided to head into the wood shop and start carving shapes. What emerged was an articulated wooden toy. "It was very cathartic, satisfying," he says. Eventually, other wood toys were added, to the Wooden Beasts line and his puzzle Cubebots, netting his 2nd Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum. David's also been oft-nominated for the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award and has won Editor's Award twice at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair. But keeping things close to home keeps him grounded. "My best work has come from solving a problem in my own house or making a toy I’d want my own kid to play with," he says. "That has integrity."
From Williamsburg's cobblestone streets, Brooklyn-based Areaware straddles the line between functional and humorous in a standout range of products for everyday life. Founder Noel Wiggins comes from a long line of artists but ultimately found he himself going a different way. "I come to it from a kind of problem-solving idea. Painting, honestly, wasn't collaborative enough for me," he says. "You have to be a really kind of solitary person to be an effective painter."
With his roster of contributing designers, Wiggins nurtures both emerging and established talent with an eye for realizing objects that are both thoughtful and practical. And Areaware is always on the search for new voices, sponsoring student initiatives at New York's Parsons The New School of Design and Rochester Institute of Technology. Recognized by the likes of Fast Company, Dwell andVanity Fair, the collection includes signature items from Harry Allen, Brendan Ravenhill and David Weeks, among others. "We believe that appreciation for beauty is central to what it means to be alive," Wiggins says. "And we want to embody this principle in even the simplest things."