By Ali Morris
As in recent years, the line 'designed and made in Brooklyn' was perhaps one of the most common quips at NYCxDesign 2014, and long may it continue, especially when the work being produced is of the caliber of Moving Mountains' work. Stationed at the Javits Center for ICFF last week, Moving Mountains is run by Hawaiian-born Syrette Lew who debuted an excellent collection of furniture and lighting pieces, which is, happily, all designed and made in and around Brooklyn. "It's just more expensive doing it locally," explains Lew. "You could go overseas where there's higher minimums but it's a totally different ball game. I like working with people. Part of the joy is finding a really amazing fabricator, talking through the design, figuring out what could work."
Lew studied economics at UCLA before going on to complete a degree in Industrial Design at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. After graduation, she took a job with furniture giant West Elm, where she spent her days designing furniture for the mass market. After five years, Lew decided to set up her own studio designing bags and jewelry but waited another year before starting work on a furniture collection. "I had to take a break because after having designed for other people for five years I didn't even know what my aesthetic was anymore. I was taught to think in a certain way but it's slowly coming out," she says. Last week, Lew scooped the ICFF editor's award for Craftsmanship, and it's not hard to see why. Moving Mountains' debut collection balances traditional woodworking techniques with playful touches of surface pattern and flashes of brilliant color; the precise form of the credenza is enlivened with a confetti marquetry pattern while the back of the Douglas fir A-Frame mirror is finished in an unexpected vibrant orange that reflects on to the wall to create an intriguing warm glow.
As well as finding her feet creatively, Lew has also had a crash course in fabrication. "Designing for the mass-produced market requires a totally different mindset. The designing part is easy, but when you're working in-house for a furniture brand you have an entire team that deals with sourcing and production problems, when I make my own collections I have to do all of that myself."
With a successful debut under her belt and a promise of more to come, Moving Mountains is an exciting and welcome new addition to the Brooklyn designer/maker community.