Founded in London in 2012 by siblings Pia and Moritz Wüstenberg, Utopia & Utility is a design studio focusing on craft manufacturing and handmade objects. Their designs marry function and poetic design, and frequently incorporate mixed media, including glass, copper, ceramics, and wood. Utopia & Utility creates whimsical objects that utilize traditional materials in innovative ways, and they work with craftsmen around the world to ensure high quality production. According to the designers: “We believe that everything that deserves to be made, deserves to be made well. From the process to the finished objects, our motivation is to enrich life through beauty.”
Pia (born in Mainz, Germany in 1986) and Moritz (born in Mainz in 1988) were raised in a German-Finnish family. The pair grew up traveling between the two countries, appreciating the contrasts between cultures. At the age of fifteen, Pia—Utopia & Utility’s main designer and creative director—moved to England for school. After a foundation year of studies in glass, ceramics, and metal at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, she went on to study furniture design and craftsmanship at Buckinghamshire University, ultimately earning a Bachelor’s degree from the latter in 2008. That same year, she founded her eponymous design studio, Piadesign, in North Karelia, Finland. In 2009, she returned to London to attend the Royal College of Arts; she graduated with a Master’s degree in Design Products in 2011. After graduation, she moved her studio to East London, where she continues to work today. In 2012, she partnered with her brother Moritz, and the pair established Utopia & Utility.
Moritz is a biochemical engineer as well as the Utopia & Utility’s managing director. Although not creatively involved, he is responsible for finance, logistics, and business affairs. He studied biochemical engineering at University College London, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2011. In 2014, he obtained his Master’s degree in Science and Technology, specializing in environmental engineering and energy law, from Aalto University as well as an LLM postgraduate degree from the University of Eastern Finland.
Notable projects to date include Processed Paper (2010) and Stacking Vessels (2011), both of which were created during Pia’s time at the Royal College of Arts. Processed Paper is a collection of lamps, small furniture, jewelry, and accessories realized by an innovative technique that involves rolling and gluing layered waste paper that is then processed in various ways in the wood workshop. Meanwhile, the mixed media Stacking Vessels are functional sculptures consisting of three bespoke vessels that layer one on top of the other to create one larger object. Each individual piece is handmade by craftsmen across Europe. The glass is blown by an expert team in Bohemia, Czech Republic; the ceramic pieces are turned in Devon, England; the brass and copper is spun by a family-run workshop in East London; and the wood is sourced from forests in Finland by a retired farmer, making each vessel truly unique and one-of-a-kind.
As of this writing, the studio has expanded to three locations in Kitee, Finland; Bistensee, Germany; and London. In addition to Pia and Moritz, the studio also employs Ranee Lachaize, responsible for customer service and sales, and Basti Jöhnk, who works in the warehouse and is a full-time craftsman and the maker of their Processed Paper products.