The masterminds behind Uusi turn visual inventiveness
into artful commerce
(page 1 of 4)
Peter Dunham and Linnea Gits, at a dining table designed and built by Dunham,
with Uusi’s Moderne City and (in foreground) Moderne Home block sets
If it has anything to do with design, Peter Dunham and Linnea Gits have probably done it. They’re best known for their work as Binth, a successful paper goods and screen-printing company (which they recently sold to their partner). But now, under a new name, Uusi (“new” in Finnish), this husband-and-wife operation is moving its three-dimensional work front and center, while still producing some limited-edition prints.
A quick glance through the Uusi shop (at uusi.us) shows everything from a reclaimed-cypress-wood dining table to a colorful set of architectural building blocks and a screen-printed deck of Mexican playing cards. But to call Uusi an online shop would be to sell it short. Working out of a 7,500-square-foot industrial space in West Town—which includes a wood shop on the ground floor and a studio on the second—Dunham and Gits have also built custom kitchens for private clients and taken on corporate projects big (Herman Miller’s interior architecture schemes) and small (tables and stools for the pizzeria Great Lake, in Andersonville).
Friends introduced the two shortly after they’d finished college (he earned a BFA at Northern Illinois University; she studied journalism at Drake while pining to do fine art). At the time, Dunham was running an atelier in Chicago with a couple of other artists, producing paintings, sculpture, lamps, and tables, among other things. “It was a professional working studio,” says Gits, who, until meeting Dunham, “hadn’t realized that art could be anything but a hobby.” She offered to apprentice there, and thus began what she calls a “20-year dialogue about design.”
Photograph: Bob Coscarelli