If high school geometry gave you sweaty palms and trigonometry 101 left you near stationary with dread, Kin & Company’s circle and wave-driven furniture may incite vexatious flashbacks. Then again, the Brooklyn-based company’s designs might lead you to an unexpected reconciliation with your teenage nemesis. How so? Well, Kin and Company does what your high school teacher never could: they make geometrics feel mesmerizingly cool .
Launched in 2017 by cousins Joseph Vidich and Kira DePaola, Kin & Company has a point of view that feels both formulated, yet free-form; balletic yet playful. It’s a tangible ying and yang that mirrors Vidich and DePaola’s own dichotomy. Like family itself, Kin & Company furniture is the result of complementary parts coming together to create a single, functioning unit. The results; however, are marvelously unconventional.
To welcome Kin & Company into the DECASO family (yes, pun very much intended), we recently sat down with DePaola and Vidich to learn more about how family factors into Kin & Company ethos, as well as their otherworldly sources of inspiration and the newest medium you can find them delving into this spring.
How would you describe Kin & Company?
We make contemporary furniture, grounded in fine metalwork, that’s conceptually focused and has real attention to detail and material. Our creative practice is based on subverting expectations to yield mysterious, multi-layered results. We take simple, fundamental geometry and look for moments to subvert the form in order to create kinetic and expressive objects.
What are the benefits of working together as cousins, and how do you split up the work?
We are a creative and entrepreneurial team. We work closely on everything and get a lot of support from each other. Starting your own business and putting your creative output into the world is risky, so there’s a real sense of security from being in a partnership and being family.
Where does your inspiration come from?
We find inspiration from a wide variety of sources, from our everyday lives in NYC, to the work of the Russian constructivists. We also think a lot about movement through space—enabling a static object to feel as though it’s in transition, motion, or going through a transformation.
We’re also very inspired by the work of fine artists, such as Richard Serra for his Torqued Ellipses and their sense of imbalance or destabilization, Robert Smithson for the scale of the work and the way in which you keep finding more beauty in natural materials as you get closer or further away, like in Spiral Jetty, Michael Heizer, who did Double Negative in the city over Nevada, and also Donald Judd for the very minimal quality and precision of metalwork.
How does experimentation factor into your creative process?
Experimentation and discovery are integral parts of our process. We explore a lot of ideas during the design phase, and then because we fabricate our own work, we can continue to experiment and develop the design throughout the making. For example with the Thin Series, the first thing we designed was a small table. For manufacturing reasons it had to be cut in two pieces. We started playing with the pieces and flipped one of them over. In a moment of serendipity the folded chair, which wasn’t even conceptualized in the design phase, was created. That led to the idea of having two chairs that sit back to back, which led to the creation of the Tête-à-Tête or the conversation chair, which then led to a series of undulating park benches.
Are there any themes that run throughout your pieces?
At an elemental scale, we are obviously love geometric forms! We’re continually inspired by outer space and planetary systems. We’re fascinated by decay and oxidation. We also seek moments that catch your attention and bring you into the present like unexpected finishes, details, and contrasts.
Finishes seem to hold such a special place in your work. Can you talk to us a bit about that?
Materiality is incredibly important to us. We both have fine art backgrounds, and we love delving into the art–and the science–of metal finishing. We have been developing a body of research into oxidation and patinas as a distinct surface treatment. Akin to watercoloring, the process uses metal as a canvas while applying chemical catalysts to the surface, accelerating the natural oxidation of the material. The results capture the fluid and ephemeral movement of molecules to create a distinct pattern.
How did the collaboration between Kin & Company and Henrik Ødegaard come about?
Sight Unseen has a collaborative project called Norway x New York where they pair New York designers with Norwegian designers and ask them to create a product together. It’s like a design blind date! We connected with Henrik right away and had a ton of ideas for products from our first meeting. It was a wonderful collaboration.
Would you say dual purpose an important factor in your work?
We do enjoy a certain amount of ambiguity when it comes to function. Most of our work is pretty straight forward (a table, is a table is a table…) But we really tried to push the limits of function in the Step Series. Here we developed the Stair Chair and the Chair Stair, a coupling of low and high seating that can also serve as a coffee table, side table, plant stand or blanket stand. The intention was to allow the user to assign functionality to the pieces once they have them in their home.
Is there a particular design era or movement that particularly inspires you?
There’s so much richness in every era! We go through phases of crushing on different movements. The bauhaus and the land art movement of the 70’s are particularly enduring ones.
What kind of décor do you gravitate to in your own homes?
A lot of art and furniture from friends, we like to support our amazing community! Joe’s house has a rotating collection of found objects from hikes, many plants and just recently an ever growing pile of baby toys! (He has a 5 month old.)
Your work with Barrett Design’s Brooklyn Townhomes feels like a perfect marriage between furniture development and interior design. How do your backgrounds guide your work with Kin & Company?
Between us, we’ve worked on a lot of sides of the design industry, from art, to architecture, to interior design, to furniture sales, to fabrication. We love creative challenges, and our diverse experience allows us to take on a lot of different types of projects, which really keeps things interesting–and keeps us on our toes!
What do you love about working in Brooklyn?
We absolutely love the community here. There are so many designers and makers to collaborate and commiserate with!
Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve created since founding Kin & Company?
We’re particularly fond of the Crescent Coffee Table, which has a great sense of tension in both the form–opposing arcs–and the material–crystalized marble and rusted steel. We also love how it’s both elegant and subtle while still feeling very playful.
What’s next for Kin & Company?
We have a very busy Spring coming up with a new collection debuting at the Architectural Digest Home Show in late March, including a new wallpaper collaboration with Wallpaper Projects featuring our patinas. And Design Week will be even busier–we’re showing new work at the fabulous designer-led show, Next Level, and we’re curating a really fun show of outdoor furniture that will be held outdoors. More info will be announced soon on that one!
Lead photo by Chris Mottalini featuring Kin & Co. Thin Table