Since 1976, Ted Muehling has been designing jewelry and decorative objects inspired by organic forms found in nature. With the help of a small staff in his New York City studio, he produces multiples as well as one-of-a-kind pieces using such diverse materials as precious and semi-precious metals and stones, pearls, ceramics, stone, plastic, and wood.
“Rocks, shells, eggs, and insects all inspire me, and humble me as a designer,” Muehling has said. “I try to keep shapes restrained, abstracting forms in nature, transforming them through the imperative to make objects that look beautiful and work beautifully. My designs trace the invisible forms that exist between nature and our perceptions of it.”
Muehling was born in Passaic, New Jersey, in 1953. He studied industrial design at Pratt Institute in New York, were mentors included Gerald Gulotta, Rowena Reed, and William Fogler – designers whose influence helped to further shape a unique vision rooted in childhood walks through the woods and passionate collecting of treasures discovered outdoors.
Through the late 1970s and 1980s, the designer attracted attention for jewelry that refined such natural forms as rice grains, olive branches, pine cones, and insect wings. His eye and intuition gradually led him to create spoons, lighting, and other decorative and functional objects. In 1990, Muehling opened his first shop on Greene Street in the Soho district of Manhattan. Collectors made regular pilgrimages, as did potential partners for design projects of increased ambition and scale. Muehling’s recent collaboration with the Porzellan-Manufactur Nymphenburg in Germany, for example, has resulted in a broad, exemplary range of functional production objects in porcelain. And an ongoing ten-year dialogue between Muehling and Rhett Butler, of E.R. Butler & Co., has likewise produced elegant production candlesticks in bronze and silver.
For his achievements, talent, and influence, Ted Muehling has received a number of honors, including the Chrysler Design Award and the American Fashion Coty Award. He has been a finalist for the National Design Award, bestowed by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and his work is included in numerous public and private collections.