WORKAHOLIC // Avoirdupois

James Stumpf, the designer behind Avoirdupois may be the new furniture and lighting kid in town but that doesn’t mean his pieces don’t hold weight.  In fact, The name Avoirdupois was perfectly chosen from James’ deep interest with historical references notating an obsolete system of weights and measures from the 16th & 17th century. As the french translation reads “objects of weight”, we see the beautiful metaphor James plays into as he builds pieces of visual weight that will not only transcend time in the design world but society as a whole.

What began as his childhood obsession, James has always had a love for building and tinkering with things. After a short professional career as an Engineer, it is clear to see just why James is on the edge of being an engineer and designer. His infatuation with historical benchmarks, proportion and materials allow him to explore shape and construction without limitations. 

His inaugural collection, Collection Nº1 / Tripartite which was two years in the making is a distinguished example of a technical freedom, skillful craftsmanship, and creative ingenuity. What we love most about it? Every piece in the collection shares the common thread of the single triplicating motif running through the entire collection. Read:Tripartite as a collection is the visual division of three. With these pieces, three is indeed the magic number. We caught up with James in his Soho studio as he releases his debut collection, to find out just what makes him a workaholic.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am James Stumpf. I am one-half engineer, one-half designer and the founder of Avoirdupois. I work to create original furniture and lighting pieces based on proper proportions, historically proven shapes/forms using exploratory materials and manufacturing techniques.

Where is your workspace?

I have a small workshop in Soho in NYC where I build and prototype all of my pieces.

What made you turn to this direction?

The process started as a momentary creative outlet and grew into a deep desire to create the best original pieces of furniture and lighting that I possibly could.


Was this always your dream job?

“Dream job” to me doesn’t feel appropriate. Some things just happen organically, influenced by one’s surroundings, situations and people they put themselves in/around. If I were to look backwards, I’ve approached countless “forks in the road” in life and choosing the alternative path of any one of those decisions would have probably led to me doing something else.

How much of the week is work, how much is play?

All I do is work. Sometimes it’s exciting and fun and other times it’s soul crushing.

What has been the most exciting thing you have done with your work, and what is a dream situation you’d like to find yourself in?

Launching Collection Nº1 is the culmination of 2-1/2 years of design, engineering and manufacturing efforts while working alone in my shop and judging/self-obsessing over my stuff in my head. Finally putting that body of work out into the world has been the most exciting part.

How do you find your inspiration?

I get inspired mechanically by finding complicated mechanisms, tearing them apart, reverse-engineering and absorbing manufacturing techniques, ideas and assembly methods. Visually, I study my favorite historic pieces, read books, sketch, etc.

How do you define your personal style, work and clothing, etc.?

I am always working and so I pretty much wear the same shirt, pants and shoes every day.

What’s something someone may not know about you?

I taught myself ceramics in order to slip cast the porcelain lighting lenses from this collection and it was one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever taken on. I formulated my own porcelain slip which involves mixing numerous raw, refined minerals from the Earth in exacting quantities/specific gravity to create a porcelain that is translucent when fired while also trying to balance numerous working and physical material properties.

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