Rhode Island: It's All in Our Backyard

Making a name in Our Backyard

August 22, 2014 by chris

“Forbes” magazine’s most recent “30 Under 30” list includes Providence renaissance man Asher Dunn. Just a few years after graduating from RISD in 2008, he founded “DUNN,” which creates everything from coffee tables and dining room sets to stools and bowls.

Forbes says his Providence studio “produces sleek, simple furniture, lighting, bowls and vases that recall mid-20th century modernism.”

“We are fascinated by honest materials and age old manufacturing techniques. Working with these techniques requires knowledge, patience, and love for the materials we work with,” says Dunn.

Sustainability is a priority. The company has a conscious approach to design and manufacturing that relies on reusing material and minimizing waste. They work with high-quality domestic timber, unique in color and grain, from sustainable forests. Even their new aluminum line of products uses up to 90 percent recycled aluminum.

“We work quite a bit in wood. To us, this material is personal; it lives, feels nice to the touch, and never looks the same. When treated correctly and respecting a materials strengths and weaknesses, we can create unique and beautiful designs,” Dunn explains.

The 28-year-old entrepreneur from Michigan is putting down deep roots in Our Backyard. He also founded Keeseh Woodshop, a community workshop that teaches woodworking, and Anchor Providence, an arts and business incubator.

“Everybody at RISD jokes that the campus is a bubble – nothing gets in and nothing gets out. Well, I leaped out a few times and explored the landscape and found that Rhode Island is filled with exciting resources. There is a vibrant design community here that is dedicated to seeing Rhode Island grow. Providence in particular is increasingly making a place for itself on the map,” he says.

“Being located between Boston and New York City makes this an ideal location for designers. We can have clients in both large cities, while living and working in a less expensive city. Not to mention that everything is so close in Rhode Island – our material suppliers and the manufacturers are never more than 30 minutes away.”