Ayako Takase and Cutter Hutton are the creative partners behind Observatory, a Rhode-Island-based furniture and product design studio. Synthesizing their individual influences and design sensibilities, their work balances innovation and poetic simplicity. Since founding their studio in 2001, they’ve worked with such clients as Herman Miller, Skyline Design and Proctor and Gamble to design thoughtful products that connect with their users.
Hutton and Takase are committed foremost to process, letting a natural interplay of form and function emerge as their products take shape. Hutton says, "Designing objects is a physical endeavor, and for us there's a lot of discovery that happens when using our hands working with materials and modeling. That process is central to our studio’s approach.”
Takase grew up in Japan, whose aesthetic simplicity and attention to craft are central to her work. Hutton’s problem-solving skills and love of modern design are evident in his approach to design. The two met as students at the Rhode Island School of Design, where both now teach, in the Industrial Design and Furniture Design departments. Their collaborative working relationship has developed and been refined over many years. "There's a constant back and forth as we evolve designs,” says Takase. Hutton adds, “Often we understand the other's ideas without much conversation. That sort of unspoken dialogue only comes from working so closely together for so long.”