After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2002 with a degree in furniture design, Jonah Takagi traveled the world for four years with indie-rock musician Benjy Ferree. When he had time at home in Washington, DC, he picked up side gigs crafting sets and props and tinkered with product one-offs at the studio in his house.
A lull in his music career coincided with a critical mass of product prototypes, and Takagi decided it was time for a full-scale launch into the design world. In 2007, he established Atelier Takagi—–which as of now remains a one-man operation. “I bought a bunch of 3-D modeling software and just started Googling furniture design competitions,” he says. His American Gothic coffee table—–a five-legged take on the spindled Windsor style—–was chosen for Bernhardt Design’s ICFF Studio in 2009. The exposure gave him a leg up to cold-call shop owners he admired and wanted to work with, like Matter’s Jaimie Gray, who chose two of his pieces for MatterMade’s Collection Number One. His thoughtful work—–stools with legs inspired by broom handles and ceramic pendants suspended by simple metal hooks—– represents his inquisitive, tinkerer’s approach. “I’ve always enjoyed the physicality of making things,” he says.
Takagi is still taking on assignments for set design and other pick-up projects, but he’s increasingly focused on autonomy. “I’d like to do design on my own, without a day job, but most of all I’d like to keep healthy and sane and try to stay inspired.”