American Made Since 2009

Mihae Mukaida

Brooklyn, New York
RockPaperRobot (RPR) is an engineering boutique specializing in innovation and fabrication of kinetic furniture, lighting, and installations.
New York Design
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RPR is an “invention design” company that lies at the intersection of art, technology, & furnishings. The pieces in our collection diverge from traditional decor in that functionality & frivolity are prescribed by motion. We integrate technology & mechanics into reactive, transformable objects with novel actuation schemes from passive products like levitating table to more complex ones like robotic chandeliers that respond to ambient stimuli. The complementary skill sets of co-founders Jessica Banks (MIT roboticist) & Mihae Mukaida (Parsons alumna) allow us to utilize expertise from installations & limited high end production runs to identify what items can be segued to a broader market. The sales & brand traction achieved through such items enables us to bootstrap RPR’s R&D core. Our biz model is informed by rapidly emerging social/biz trends based on authenticity, craftsmanship, & personal experience/expression to bring aspirational & accessible kinetic products into the world.

What makes your business unique?

We are as much inventors as we are strategists. As select tenants of New Lab, a Brooklyn based facility that fosters innovation in design, prototyping, and manufacturing, we are at the forefront of a local renaissance - the Maker Age. We combine cutting edge rapid prototyping tools (techniques that in 10 years from now will probably be commonplace) with age old artisanal techniques. If it wasn’t for an added spirit of exploration and fearlessness to embrace small failures as opportunities for improvement and learning, we would not be able to keep ourselves and our fans aware, awake, and awed. We are a woman owned and operated engineering and fabrication outfit. We use all the tools in the toolbox. We bike everywhere. We love to dance.

What's the best business advice you've received?

Lately, we’ve been giving business advice ( But one tip we always come back to is actually a quote from Abe Lincoln: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Being entrepreneurs with a small startup that requires as much time in the machine shop as at the computer means we could literally work ALL the time. The impulse to work late into the night, through the weekend, even cancelling on friends can seem overwhelmingly important, but we strive to remind ourselves to maintain a sense of balance by taking time away, even if it’s just a few hours in the sun, to regroup and sharpen our axes.

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  • Voting for Category Winners
    Aug. 26 - Sept. 22, 2013

    Vote for your favorite makers in crafts, food, and more.

  • Category Winners Announced
    September 23, 2013

    Discover our 2013 American Made winners.

  • Voting for Grand Prize Winner
    September 23 - 30, 2013

    Which maker receives $10,000? You decide.

  • Grand Prize Winner Announced
    October 1, 2013

    Find out who our 2013 Audience Choice Award Winner is.

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