From Prada to Missoni to Fendi, multigenerational companies have ruled the fashion world for decades, with founders recruiting children and grandchildren in order to preserve their creative vision and keep fortunes under family control. Dynastic brands exist in the housewares world, as well, including the iconic Italian atelier Fornasetti, and the 109-year-old Viennese brass workshop Carl Auböck, now helmed by its fourth Carl (with a fifth already dipping his toes in). These businesses have traditionally been passed down over the years, but a new class of family-run design operations has recently emerged. These are true creative collaborations: brands cofounded by parents and their children, working together as equals. Whether they’re producing lighting, ceramics, or tabletop objects, these studios are able to harness the advantages of both youth and experience, with the added benefit of a deeply connected, shared point of view. Just don’t ask them who’s in charge.
Remember the days when a 54-year-old school principal spending her off-hours making flowered mugs would be content gifting them to friends for the holidays, or maybe selling a few on Etsy? That was Betina Jørgensen, before Instagram—and before her social media influencer daughter, Marie Wibe Jedig, conceived the mother-daughter operation Bettunika, in the spring of 2020. Jørgensen had been dabbling in ceramics for 20 years, but when Covid hit and she was sent home from the school where she worked, the fruits of her hobby started piling up. Meanwhile, many of Jedig’s sponsor campaigns were also canceled, so “both of us suddenly had a lot of extra time, and a lot of eagerness to keep creating,” Jedig says. With her existing reach and insight into which decorative motifs would most appeal to her Gen Z peers—smiley faces, ladybugs, clouds, hearts—Jedig grew Bettunika’s Instagram to 100,000-plus followers, who now snatch up Jørgensen’s whimsically imperfect best-sellers within minutes of their release.
Bettunika has grown so much, in fact, that earlier this year, Acne Studios invited Jedig and Jørgensen to create an exclusive series for its stores, designed to echo the fashion brand’s textile patterns. The duo is also scaling up—releasing stools and giant vases this winter—and selling ceramics through retail stores for the first time, to the delight of fans who aren’t fast enough to snag them on Instagram. (The inspiration for this season’s offerings? The toys and books of Jedig’s 5-year-old niece.) None of it would have been possible if Jørgensen hadn’t trusted the instincts of her daughter, whom she calls her muse. “I only ever imagined Bettunika as a hobby, but at this point, I’ve taken fewer hours at my school job to do this,” Jørgensen says. “I’m living a dream that, two years ago, I didn’t even know I had.”
A longtime vintage design enthusiast, Helena Sultan was helping a neighbor in Philadelphia decorate her home when she realized she wanted to create pieces of her own. That prompted her to establish the furniture and lighting studio Konekt, in 2015. Soon after, she found herself turning constantly to her daughter Natasha—who was working in New York City for a jewelry brand at the time—for feedback and advice. “She was my right hand,” recalls Helena. Eventually, the pair decided to make their working relationship official, and, joined by Helena’s husband, Eric, they recast themselves as a family business in 2017, launching a series of velvet and horsehair-fringed stools that became an overnight success in the furniture world.
While Eric handles the business side, Helena and Natasha work as codesigners and co–creative directors in a collaboration that’s uncannily seamless, owing in part to their shared aesthetic inspiration: Helena’s mother is an artist whose oil paintings and stone sculptures utilize the kind of imperfect organic forms and rich textures that also define Konekt’s goatskin parchment, wood, and brass sideboards; asymmetrical bronze mirrors; and handblown glass pendant lights. Helena and Natasha describe their relationship almost as a creative mind meld. “When we’re out together, one of us will point out an interesting shape or object, and the other will almost always say she was eyeing the same thing,” Natasha says. “We add the missing pieces to each other’s ideas.”
During the lockdown of 2020, most designers turned inward; separated from their teams and workshops, they focused on whatever they could create at home. The Lloyd family, however, did the opposite: Quarantined over 800 miles apart—Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd in Sydney, and her parents, Gillian Redman-Lloyd and Max Voss-Lloyd, in Adelaide, Australia—they began making lamps together as a way to stay connected. “We’d speak every day and send sketches back and forth,” says Jerrie-Joy. Eventually, the trio became “so addicted to the process that it just snowballed,” she says, morphing from a pandemic pastime into the up-and-coming brand Rubble. The company’s polished, aerated concrete lamps are codesigned by Jerrie-Joy and Max, who then hand-carves them. Everything is overseen by project manager Gillian.
The lamps have a distinctive Stone Age vibe that reflects the project’s playful initial proposition—designing objects for Barney Rubble’s house—as well as the family’s quirky sense of humor. “I like to think of them as souvenirs brought home from a grand tour of Europe in the 1800s, works found in the ruins of an archaeological dig,” says Max, a former TV producer. For Jerrie-Joy, who is also a food stylist, the line’s reference points are more personal, ranging from the family’s shared love of Danish design, to the rock formations visited on family vacations to Joshua Tree, to the public Hanukkah celebrations in their hometown of Bondi Beach, which recently inspired them to create a limited-edition menorah in the same Flintstones vernacular. Sconces and furniture are also in the works.
Xavier Mañosa grew up in his parents’ ceramics factory in Spain, spending weekends and summers loading kilns and helping to decorate the traditional, ornate vases they sold in housewares shops around the country. When he went off to study industrial design, and eventually moved to Berlin, he thought he’d left the family enterprise behind—until his mother called him with an ultimatum: Come home and run the company with us, or we’ll have to shut it down for good. Mañosa agreed to return, but only on the condition that the factory become his “dictatorship,” he jokes. His parents gave him creative control, and the business became Apparatu, a design-driven partnership where “we stopped looking at objects and started focusing on materials and process,” Mañosa says.
Together, he and his parents shifted away from classical pottery, and began creating everything from ceramic lamps for the Spanish brand Marset, to experimental installations, to abstract sculptures exhibited in art galleries, to a new series of home goods launching this winter with the Finnish design house Artek. Mañosa’s mother, Aurora Ciria, is the pragmatic numbers person, while his father, Joan, now primarily oversees production. But Joan is also a creative engine, fueling his son’s ideas and experimenting at the wheel with new techniques that Mañosa can then incorporate into projects. “His curiosity drives all of us,” Mañosa says.
Peter Gudrunas began blowing art-glass vessels in his Ontario, Canada, studio, Sirius Glassworks, in 1976, building his reputation until his work was selling in nearly 100 galleries across North America. But the financial crisis of 2008—combined with an aging fan base—wiped out his market, and “the future of Sirius looked pretty grim,” recalls his daughter Iris. While he was of retirement age at the time, she wanted to help maintain not only her father’s oeuvre but also the massive facilities he’d built, which were an important resource for a new generation of glassblowers. The two partnered in 2013, and, eight years later, with handblown glass suddenly in vogue, demand for their creations is skyrocketing. “I’m really surprised,” Peter says. “There’s this appreciation now for the artisan as an individual, of which I wasn’t aware.”
With that in mind, Iris spent her first few years at Sirius trying to get her dad to make his pieces look more obviously handmade. While for decades he’d been striving for technical perfection, she urged him to loosen up and make things more asymmetrical and wonky. “My peers are drawn to work that has more character,” she says. “They want to be able to see the hand of the artist.” Iris also started diving into her father’s archives, pulling forms from the 1970s, ’80s, and early ’90s—favorite Gen Z eras—and encouraging him to resurrect them in his signature psychedelic jewel tones. She also began bringing him her own designs, including the popular Nassau series of iridescent, color-speckled cups. Iris’s next big move is to share more art-glass history with Sirius’s followers through an Instagram devoted to the studio’s extensive library, in the hope that highlighting the work’s context will help her curious fans become glass collectors for life.