Creator Spotlight: MK Objects

By: Jessica Stewart

In the dynamic world of design, the genesis of a business often unfolds in unexpected ways, and for Jonah Kilday and Petra McKenzie, it all began around a kitchen table in Brooklyn over a decade ago. United by a shared passion for interior design, furnishings, and textiles, the duo ventured into entrepreneurship in 2012, leaving their corporate roles behind to create a harmonious blend of aesthetic and functionality. Now, with offices in both NYC and Austin, their journey from a tiny shared apartment to the thriving MK Objects brand showcases their commitment to creating beautiful, well-made, and ethically sourced pieces that stand the test of time. In this exclusive interview with Petra McKenzie, we delve into their creative process, sustainable practices, and the joy derived from enhancing clients’ lives through thoughtful design.

Can you tell us the story of how you started your business?

Jonah and I met while working for different companies about 15 years ago. We became fast friends and were eventually living together in Brooklyn. The idea grew literally at our kitchen table and became a reality in 2012 when we decided to leave our jobs and get started. We always knew we wanted to combine interior design with our furnishings and textiles (Jonah has a few years of experience working for a high-end textile showroom, and me having a background in furniture design and manufacturing as well, helped facilitate that). Now, we have an office in NYC and an office and showroom in Austin, TX, and we still work as closely together on every project (and object) as back then in our tiny, shared NY apartment.

MK Objects co-founding duo, Petra McKenzie and Jonah Kilday.

What kind of items do you create?

We strive to make “the perfect piece” for every client – beautiful, functional, and well-made. This extends into the design of made-to-order items, even if they are not initially tailored for a specific space or client. Pieces must feel good, use suitable materials – ideally without a significant environmental impact, and be comfortable and somewhat timeless, as they’re made to last. We use natural materials and dyes for our rugs and ensure everything is ethically sourced and manufactured. For our furniture, we work with local craftspeople for the most part – we like to be a part of the process as much as we can.

"geometry. 004" rug by MK Objects - Kilim field with Persian knot cut pile motif

What does the creation process look like?

Often, a new line or piece grows from a design project we’re working on as a spin-off of a custom piece we made for a particular home. Sometimes, the core idea for a new collection springs from something we’ve been moved by or drawn to – an art exhibition, for example, or an interesting material or texture we’ve come across. We talk about it and brainstorm ideas, and then we usually give ourselves a deadline to sketch a few things around the vital idea. Then we meet again and keep spinning the thought until we’re both fully on board and ready to move into the prototyping or sampling process.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Art, like mentioned before, [and] architecture, textures, colors. It could be anything really – I remember sitting in a cafe somewhere and one of us pointing out to the other, “Do you see what the sun is doing on the side of that building over there? I would love to capture this feeling and turn it into a rug…”

"006" rug by MK Objects - Handwoven flatweave field with Persian knot motif

What are your most common requests for customizations from trade clients?

The most common requests are custom sizes and colors – which is the point and the beauty of made-to-order pieces. We’ve gotten more challenging requests like using completely different materials or a client-specific pattern that fits a theme the designer is following. All is (mostly) doable. Requests like that have a different price point than the standard, but we’re always up to design something with our trade clients.

How do you incorporate sustainable practices into your work?

As mentioned above, we avoid a big carbon footprint where possible. We educate ourselves on materials and practices and the consequences on the environment. We try to be mindful of using rare resources like some exotic woods, for example, and we’ve also been working on incorporating recycled materials.

"007" rug by MK Objects - Handwoven Kilim field with raised cut pile motif

What has been the most fulfilling part of running your company?

This may sound a little cheesy, but seeing a happy client at the end of a project or receiving a product and any new client that comes in by recommendation of a previous client is a great feeling. We’re always the happiest if what we delivered made someone’s life a little more beautiful, practical, or enjoyable. 

Do you have any exciting projects in the works you can tell us about?

Generally, we’re excited about every project we’re working on. We’re still finalizing some furniture prototypes for our brand-new showroom in Austin, TX. We’re open for first visits but are working on the “grand opening” later this spring. That will be exciting – we’re happy to welcome everyone who wants to stop by.

Also, we’ve started working on a new fabric line.

"geometry. 008" rug by MK Objects - Handwoven, Tibetan knot, wool & silk rug

Is there anything else people should know about?

We’re not exclusively working on furniture and textiles – primarily we’re an interior design company that does anything from designing that perfect piece of furniture or that perfect rug, up to complete gut renovation.

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