5 Under 40 2016: Ben Uyeda

September 1, 2016

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Our final 5 Under 40 award winner is Ben Uyeda.

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Co-founder of ZeroEnergy Design, creative director at HomeMade Modern, Pinterest ambassador, TEDx speaker, and author are just a few monikers that describe award-winning architect and furniture designer Ben Uyeda. After graduating from Cornell University with a master’s degree in architecture, Uyeda co-founded Zero­Energy Design, a green architecture firm in Boston. His latest venture is HomeMade Modern, for which Uyeda designs and creates aspirational modern furniture that he makes accessible through YouTube tutorials.

So far Uyeda has designed and shared ninety-plus projects on his YouTube channel, which has more than 20 million views. His designs have been built on six continents. However, he stresses that it’s not a one-way street: he gets feedback from people as they make and improve upon the ideas he shares—what he calls crowd-sourced R&D.

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While a focus on sustainability is clear in Uyeda’s architectural work with ZeroEnergy Design, teaching people to be more mindful of their physical environments is the broader connection to sustainability at HomeMade Modern. “I believe that if people make more of the things they own, they become more conscious consumers,” says Uyeda. “I don’t want to dictate my version of sustainability, I want to provide access and opportunity.”

Although he’s sharing designs across the globe, Uyeda maintains deep roots in the New England design community as a lecturer at Northeastern University, an active partner at ZeroEnergy Design, and a real estate developer in Jamaica Plain.

The serial entrepreneur just signed a deal with AutoDesk, which is opening a state-of-the-art lab in Boston’s Seaport District with massive machines that can fabricate just about anything. Uyeda is currently working on 3-D designs for a spiral staircase to help promote the new space—and, of course, he is happy to share the source files.

Ben Uyeda’s Rug Inspiration

“Coffee and cocktails are two things I love consuming and I was initially inspired by retro flair of some of my favorite baristas and bartenders. After further thought I realized that a mustache is a stylistic statement that is made from hair with no discernable function. An ornamental rug is a wonderful opportunity to make a stylistic statement out of hair-like stuff. The recent resurgence in popularity suggests that mustaches are timeless or at least cyclically so. I also like the idea that single icon could be interpreted as referencing multiple cultural sources either ironically or sincerely.”

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The “5 Under 40” celebration is open to the public. Join us by purchasing your tickets here.