Ottra’s award-winning sofa. Extra-long and sculptural, and also very comfortable, this is one memorable sofa. Just after its release in 2022, it was the recipient of an NYCxDesign Award. It has also been on display at Salon Art + Design. Photo: Ethan Herrington

Ottra Makes Unique Furniture 
That Captivates The Eyes and Mind

by Benjamin Genocchio

Sofia and Adam Zimmerman are the creative duo behind Ottra, a highly regarded resource for interior designers searching for meticulously crafted custom wooden furniture that is also sculpture. Incollect sat down with them to discuss their sources of inspiration and what's on the horizon for the award-winning, Brooklyn-based design brand. 

How would you describe your sensibility as designers?

Sofia: We aim to create simple but impactful sculptural solid wood furniture that’s meant to be enjoyed for generations. The designs have a more modern aesthetic, but there’s a versatility to them. We say they’re like a pair of jeans that can be dressed up or down. We love to see how our pieces fit into various settings, from minimalist to traditional. 

The Elliptical Console in a showhouse vignette by Tina Ramchandani Creative. Photo: Ellen McDermott

The Sculptural Lounge Chair

Do your designs have historical roots, sources, or connections?

Sofia: Our designs don’t necessarily have historical roots, but our values — and perhaps subconsciously, some of our aesthetic leanings — are a nod to our ancestors. Adam had two grandfathers living in Madison, WI. One led a successful plumbing business — he even worked on homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright — and the other owned two popular Italian restaurants. One of my grandfathers was a builder, and the other worked in a factory by day and as a hobby carved wooden objects with Ukrainian designs. From the stories we’ve heard, and from the bits we got to witness ourselves, there was the talent and skill, for sure, but they all demonstrated resourcefulness and pragmatism, and also just a drive to figure out complicated things. We’re inspired by all these traits and strive to bring them into the way we build our business.

Playful yet elegant, Ottra’s sculptural, stack-laminated Credenza is meant to be enjoyed from all angles, and it can hold its own as a freestanding piece dividing a room. Made to order in a choice of wood finishes or a wide selection of colors.

Wood is the material you prefer to work with. Can you tell us why?

Adam: I grew up in Texas, where tinkering around and working on home projects with my dad was my first introduction to creating with wood. I loved the endless possibilities and the fact that it was a material I could work with, even as a kid with little skill. I'm trained as an architect, so one of my first exposures to it professionally was with several timber-framed buildings. I gained an appreciation for the various practical benefits, but also the softness it imparted to the building, as well as the interior. When crafting furniture, I started to appreciate the element of surprise that wood offers. The unique and sometimes unexpected grain patterns, and the varying degrees of color within a slab of wood, ensure that every piece we create is one of a kind.

A custom Chaise created by Ottra for the Elle Decor Penthouse, with interiors designed by Fox-Nahem Associates. Photo: Evan Joseph. More details about this project can be found in Incollect’s coverage here.

Everything you make is ultra-contemporary, but also carefully handcrafted. Where is your furniture made and by whom?

Adam: Yes, from afar it’s contemporary and seemingly quite sleek, but as you get closer in, it’s clear these are handmade pieces, each showing unique markings. We make everything in our own shop, with our dedicated team, in Brooklyn. And in a time when anything can be outsourced overseas, owning the manufacturing process here, locally, is something we are proud of. That way we can really invite people into the process. They are welcome to visit our shop and meet our team members. And as a piece is being made, we’ll share progress photos with the client. We see firsthand how some people really enjoy this aspect of working with us, while for us and our makers, it’s also something that’s quite fulfilling.

Left: Ottra’s Modular Shelf in a Palm Beach home designed by Harry Heissmann. Photo: Kris Tamburello. Right: Organic form and handcraftsmanship elevate the functional to the sculptural.

Each piece of furniture looks like a sculpture. Is that how you think of and imagine your designs?

Adam: We strive to create pieces that serve a defined purpose, but at the same time, we want there to be something artful about it. It may be as a standalone, sculptural piece. Or it may also be something that complements another piece of art, like one of our benches or consoles. Either way, we think about the way light will hit them and the resulting shadows — there’s beauty, and an element of delight, in those things as well.

A sculptural Foosball Table, in solid oak. Photo: Erin Derby.

How does the division of labor break down between you? 

Sofia: I handle all aspects of sales and marketing for Ottra, while Adam focuses on design and fabrication. One of the areas where we have some overlap is in the development of new designs. I'm always taking note of what I find to be missing from our collection, which is how our sculptural Foosball Table came to be! Adam will share his design ideas with me, and I'll weigh in with my thoughts. I pay close attention to what our clients are drawn to and/or asking for, and use those insights as I offer feedback.  

The Bedside Tables are one of Ottra’s most popular designs and are often customized to suit various sizing needs. Photo: Yechiel Orgel.

What is your most popular product and why do you think this is so?

Sofia: We should take an inventory, but anecdotally, we get the most orders for our Bedside Table and the Daybed. Regarding the tables, I think it’s because they are so unlike any other bedside table on the market. Our daybeds do well because again, they are unique, but also because they can be personalized with whatever upholstery a designer brings us. We’ve used performance velvets, hand-woven textiles, and even shearling. 

Ottra’s Daybed, styled in a room by Tina Ramchandani. The versatile and customizable Daybed is one of Ottra’s most popular designs. Photo: Ellen McDermott

Are customization options available with your pieces? 

Adam: Yes, we can modify most of our pieces. Typically, it’s changing the dimensions slightly to suit a particular space. But now and then, we make modifications to suit a new function altogether. For example, we adapted our Nightstand design to become a corner desk. We are also open to commissions that are in the spirit of our aesthetic. So if someone is looking for a piece that’s not in our collection — like a bed, for example — we could create a one-off piece and look at various Ottra designs as a starting point.

Ottra’s monumental solid ash staircase at its shops and showroom in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Photo: John Muggenborg.  

Ottra designs on staircase landing: Sculptural PedestalRocking Chair, and Asymmetric Bench.  

You work with interior designers and architects all the time. Can you tell us about some of the projects you are working on?

Adam: One of the projects we have on the horizon is a sculptural walnut staircase for a home in San Diego. This will be our third staircase project: in addition to our own here in Brooklyn, we also completed one for a home in Miami designed by the New York-based interior design firm Fox-Nahem Associates. We are also developing a few new pieces: a bar cabinet version of our credenza, a club chair, and a line of decorative accessories that make use of leftover wood.

Discover More From Ottra on Incollect

185 Van Dyke Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231

718.682-3045 (showroom)  •  917.579.5702 (mobile/text)  •