In Brooklyn, Designs by Swiss-Influenced Studio Seitz

General / People / Places / Products / August 1, 2022

If the fine furnishings created by Studio Seitz look like they’ve been made with Swiss precision, that’s because they are.

Co-founders Kevin Seitz and Rob van Wyen are inspired by a family heritage of craftsmanship from Switzerland dating back to 1795.

“Kevin’s family members have been makers forever, with their own workshops,” van Wyen says. “And we’re both very interested in making stuff.”

“My parents still have all the furniture they bought, and my grandparents too, and they’ve passed it all down,” Seitz says.

So when he and van Wyen started building for architects, interior designers, and the design enthusiasts, they looked back to the Swiss tradition of solid craftsmanship.

Formerly with West Elm, van Wyen appreciates the value of quality, sustainable materials made with a modern and tactile simplicity. “We’ve bought furniture in the past that was made with veneers that don’t last long and started to peel,” he says. “It was designer furniture that didn’t last long – so we limit our palette to materials that last.”

Where others use screws and glues to hold their furniture together, these two keep it simple, using architecture to make a solid piece of furniture. “Our bench, for example, is designed to use less material so it holds itself together,” he says.

Seitz says he’s not out to achieve something with a focus on the visual or novel. “For me, it doesn’t have to be flashy to be good,” he says.

That doesn’t mean their work lacks flourish. It does – but you have to look closely to get it. “It’s a combination of minimalism and alpine-inspired – the palette is pretty clean, but there’s also a blackened version,” he says. “When you get closer you see some interesting details that reflect art, culture, and our own family history.”

A favored material is European ash, from Eastern Switzerland near Germany. “It has a visual quality like pine or oak, and for longevity it’s a better wood to use,” he says. “We need to be FSC-certified, so 70 percent has to be Swiss – and 90 percent of ours is.”

Because they’re Brooklyn-based, the pair understands the importance of making pieces that work in context of smaller living spaces. “In New York City apartments, a lot of Restoration Hardware is not going to fit,” he says. “So these fit into anyone’s home and will not be unwieldy or take up a lot of space.”

And every piece of functional, comfortable seating they produce is made to order. “Some individuals want a certain color and we can do that,” he says. “We’re service-oriented – our pieces are not mass produced and shipped out.”

Still, their prices are reasonable – and positioned at the lower end of the luxury market.

Which, for a solid piece of handmade furniture just waiting to be handed down, is a bargain.

For more, go here.

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.




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