Interview: Pete Oyler of Assembly


Founded in 2012, Assembly is a talented design collaborative led by husband and wife team Pete Oyler and Nora Mattingly.  Oyler and Mattingly’s Copper Slight chair, which made its debut this spring at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), caught our eye and is now available through Shop Grey.  With plans in the works for our first exclusive project together we talked with Oyler to learn a little more about Assembly and their design process. 



What is the Assembly design process? 

At Assembly, our goal is to create high quality products that provide a unique perspective on function, form, and scale in the realm of furniture design. I would say our process is definitely concept driven.  However, we are also very materially driven. When designing, we think about how we can shift the user or viewer’s expectations of standard furniture objects through color, form, material, and proportion.  We like to surprise, subtly.


What was the thought behind your Copper Slight Chair?

Our last collection, which debuted in May focused on creating utilitarian objects that were simultaneously familiar or surprisingly unfamiliar. We started designing the collection by breaking down objects. What is a wall mirror? What is a typical chair? The Copper Slight chair was part of that exploration.  Our Slight Chair adopts the language of a standard chair but augments it slightly with its unique scale– it’s footprint is a minimal 12.5”. In order to avoid people asking questions like “is this a children’s chair”, we needed to reaffirm the categorical no man’s land in which the chair’s scale was imagined. We decided to use a luxurious and rich material that would help signal that this is for adults.  The chair has a lacquered finish, which will prevent the copper from oxidizing– it is forever young, so to speak.



You’re in the process of designing a new product for Grey Area. What is it? 

Kyle approached us with the idea of creating some kind of home accessory and mentioned that a clock might be a good place to start.  We used that as our baseline and began thinking about what constitutes a clock. Our research started with these very ornate, Art Deco mantle clocks from the 1920s.  After studying these really ornate objects, we began to think about decoration and its relationship to historical time and furniture objects.  Decoration isn’t something we typically apply to our work, but for the clock it became an interesting point of discussion. Not to give too much away but for the clock we are developing now, we are using the archetypal mantle clocks from the 20s and are stripping them of their time associations to create something that is both abstract and functional.