Established in 2017 by Aaron Aujla and Benjamin Bloomstein, Green River Project LLC’s research-based approach to building furniture and interiors has been shaped by ten years of studio practice as artists working in New York. Utilising a diverse scope of materials, often found and repurposed, from tobacco and bamboo to vintage textiles, the uniquely sculptural quality of Aujla and Bloomstein’s output has garnered their collaborative practice a discerning following within the art and fashion worlds. Along with private commissions for residential interiors, each year Green River Project LLC produces four collections of furniture and objects centred on a unique narrative. To learn more about the studio, their relationship with LVMH Prize finalist Emily Bode, and what the duo have planned next, Something Curated spoke with Aujla.
Something Curated: Can you tell us a little about your respective backgrounds and how you entered this field?
Aaron Aujla: Ben [Bloomstein] and I both come from a fine art background. Both of us had our own practices, shared studio spaces and worked for artists for our day jobs in New York City. We had a small gallery upstate on Ben’s farm called Green River Project. It was in a milking parlour of an old barn and most exhibitions spilled out into the fields and woods around the structure. We’ve both always loved sharing a studio/gallery and working together to transform that space into something special.
SC: How was Green River Project LLC born?
AA: We spent a good portion of 10 years making artwork in NYC; I think both of us were wondering what was next and how we could make a proper living. We were both familiar with building furniture and spaces – Ben’s sculptures looked kind of like furniture and my installations were becoming closer to interior design interventions. Emily Bode first planted the seed of the idea, she thought Ben and I should just go into interiors and furniture. We initially did contracting for our artist friends who were renovating their homes and studios, but realised we had a lot of ideas we still wanted to execute. We found that by splitting the year into four collections we were able to fit those ideas into individual narratives. After a show at Galerie Michael Bargo in 2017, we got a storefront in the East Village and began showing our furniture collections out of that space.
SC: What are you working on at present, and how is the pandemic affecting the way you’re working?
AA: We’re working on a new body of furniture that will make up two collections. The first will be beaver wood sculptures. Ben has always cleared the ash trees that the beavers cut down in a tributary of the Green River. The discarded trees flood the neighbouring grazing fields, so the debris has to be removed. We started to see these wonderful forms the beavers were making, by removing certain parts of the wood. So the first collection will be this found sculpture. The second collection is a dining suite, called Spencertown, inspired by Ellsworth Kelly and lumber from native species found in upstate NY. It will be a full suite of dining chairs with interchangeable backs and a dining table.
SC: How would you describe your approach to materials?
AA: It’s usually the first thing that Ben and I talk about before making something – we spend a lot of time trying to determine what to use. Before we made our first collection, we spent the fall trying to find a wood that looked and felt like Ben’s rolling tobacco. I always liked the colour brown it was; he would keep an apple slice in the jar to keep it moist and the colour was so rich. Eventually, we discovered a pallet of raw African mahogany that a supplier upstate was sitting on for years and we made tables and chairs from it – we’re still using it today.
SC: Can you give us some insight into your collaborative relationship with Bode?
AA: We’ve always worked closely; she’s my fiancé and the three of us have worked together for 10 years. She bought the first One Pine-Board Chair Ben made in 2011 – I think he sold it to her for $75. She’s helped us think about the way we want to make things, the narrative approach, the collections. Ben and I have always come together to conceptualise Emily’s fashion presentations; we try to think of new ways to show her collections and create a nostalgic environment for the clothes, and then recently we designed her first store. There’s a lot of crossover between both Bode and Green River Project that’s deeper than just using her textiles for our upholstery; I think we all have the same idea of what we want our businesses to be, the values we want our businesses to represent.
SC: What do you want to learn more about?
AA: I think part of the luxury of making so much work every year is that we’re able to learn something new each time. Sometimes it’s a technique, sometimes it’s historical research. I think it’s what makes things interesting. At the moment Ben wants to learn stone carving and I’m attempting to learn Hindi.
Feature image: Bamboo Screen with Painting by Kurt Beers, 2018 and Anodized Aluminum 1/2 Arm Chair with Worsted Wool Upholstery, 2018. Images courtesy Green River Project LLC.