For Brooklyn-Based Lighting Studio In Common With, Collaborations Are KeyWords by Morgan Goldberg
Nick Ozemba and Felicia Hung met on their first day in the furniture design program at RISD.
Though the young creatives instantly clicked, they couldn’t have known then that they would one day become business partners. After they graduated, they took separate career paths, Nick in interior design and Felicia in product design. But six years later, they decided to team up—and it was the best decision they could have made.
In 2018, the duo founded In Common With, a Brooklyn-based lighting company that honors their shared passion for material-driven work. The studio’s mission is to create beautiful, well-priced products that are functional and adaptable. “They’re meant to work with a lot of different architectural styles,” Nick explains. “They're not screaming for attention—they're just bold enough to be noticed and to work within the given context.”
A partnership itself, In Common With is known for its collaborations with artists like Danny Kaplan and Sophie Lou Jacobsen—which came together organically. “They're both in New York and their studios started around the same time as ours—so it just happened,” Nick shares. “We became friends and wanted to make something with them.”
These kismet collaborations have resulted in minimalist ceramic sconces, playful glass pendants, retro brass table lamps, and more. Combined with in-house collections, the brand’s offerings are impossible to resist. Here, Nick shares the secrets behind his and Felicia’s success, from the sources of their inspiration to the color palette they always turn back to.
Our design philosophy
Felicia: We were trained as craftspeople, working with wood, metal, upholstery, ceramic, and glass. This perspective allows us to embrace each material’s natural tendencies and innate characteristics. From there, we begin the process of refining the design. Curiosity, craftsmanship, and collaboration are not just key brand values, but intrinsic parts of the process.
What inspires us
Nick: We are really inspired by the way that things are made. Sometimes, one thing we like will lead to research in a million different different directions before it’s eventually turned into an idea. We are constantly exploring historical furniture and lighting design. Every morning I wake up and look at auctions, which ends up inspiring us in one way or another.
What differentiates our products from the rest
Felicia: Our backgrounds allow us to take an especially hands-on approach to the production of our collections. We are able to work alongside collaborators to fine-tune our design and processes over time. This way we’re able to scale and at the same time assist our partners in scaling with us.
What we love about our collaborators
Nick: Danny’s work is very beautiful and tactile. The way that he builds and throws ceramics is coming from a place of tradition, but feels very contemporary, which is similar to our work. There's a lot of overlap there. There's also this playfulness in his work. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but then does take itself seriously enough when it needs to.
With Sophie, the collaboration really came from this shared obsession about the history of glass. We work with the same glassblower to prototype, too. We were looking at this one specific technique that we were going to turn into a single light fixture collaboration, and it became a 20-piece lighting collection. There's also a lot of historical reference in her work, but the way that she executes it is a lot more playful. It’s sophisticated when it needs to be and her use of color is really interesting.
A collaboration piece we love
Nick: From our Flora Collection with Sophie, I love the Vera Sconces. I really like the Fazzo Pendant, too. They’re both inspired by fazzoletto, a second-century Roman glassblowing technique that was popularized in the fifties. The pieces nod to the past, but they definitely feel of-the-moment.
Where our products are made
Felicia: We’re fortunate to work with a growing circle of expert craftspeople, artists, and engineers around the world to bring our designs to life. Our production studio in Brooklyn is home to a team of skilled artisans who hand-assemble many of our products.
The colors we’re loving right now
Nick: Almost all our products, existing or upcoming, use a very earthy palette. We use colors found in nature, rather than trendy ones. We don’t subscribe to the Pantone Color of the Year. All the shades we use in our products are similar to what we have in our wardrobes.
Our biggest “pinch-me” moment
Nick: All of the time. We started this thing with our own money and it was a huge undertaking. In the beginning, Felicia and I were not paying ourselves and eating rice every single meal and sleeping on the floor. So every milestone along the way where there's an ounce of success, we're very proud of it: When we were able to hire our first employees; when any of our collaborations launch… And now we're opening a showroom.
Every part of it is crazy to us and we don't often give ourselves the moment to relish in it. We just keep going. But when we released the Flora Collection, after the party was over, I sat on the roof by myself and cried because I was so proud of what we had done. And then the next day it was back to work.
What we’re most excited to bring to Showroom
Felicia: We’re excited to bring the Arundel Series to Showroom! We developed it in the earlier days of the studio and were inspired by a chance encounter with a wok-like light at a garage sale in Maine. The resulting products exemplify In Common With’s signature: ultra-functional pieces that belong anywhere—solo or in a group, in a living room or hotel lobby, as a supporting actor or star of the show.
Nick: We have many exciting product launches ahead of us, including an outdoor lighting collection, and we’re opening a brand new showroom in 2024!