UM project was founded in 2004, a hybrid enterprise of brand consultancy, design think-tank, and craftsman workshop. Midway through studies in the MFA program at the Rhode Island School of Design, François felt motivated to prove his concepts in the real world, recognizing the market’s readiness for more personal, tangible products with a distinct point of view. Previous working experience in Europe and America at branding agencies like Zintztmeyer & Lux (Switzerland) and Interbrand (New York), along with an MBA from the Marseille Business School, provided a launchpad for François’ artistic ambitions.
The ideas and values of the great artist-craftsmen communities of the 20th century inform the basis of the UM philosophy, the Bauhaus and Vienna Werkstatte in particular. François’ expertise and vision have also been greatly shaped by a series of experiences and mentors, including revered glass designer Guillaume Saalburg, branding guru Scott Elias, and top furniture maker Hank Gilpin. His wife Kathleen is a tireless supporter and partner, with whom he has two children, Una and Milan. Aside from being an incredible source of inspiration, they have informally named the company through their first initials, an apt source for a brand of multiple meanings, where life and work are lived as a single experience, and where the spark of imagination lives on in the finished product.