What We Do

Tumu is a full-service design studio focused on Architecture, Interiors, Urban Design, and Custom Furniture.

We help people design their dreams.

Tumu was founded on the belief that good design transcends scale, typology, and style.  From the smallest detail in a piece of furniture to a large urban plan, our work reflects a simple philosophy: good design with people in mind.  We design with a courageous mindset and a creative, accessible approach.  Our work is modern, warm, and personal; simple, yet highly detailed; fresh, but timeless.

As architects, we are natural problem solvers with an aesthetic overview. We ask our clients to define their goals and dreams as well as their constraints.  Often these two things conflict with one another but they are equally important.  We tailor our design process to realize the goals of each project we undertake. Whether you are looking to build a headquarters for your business, renovate a space for your new restaurant, or make a home for your family, we love a challenge and will leverage our wealth of experience and passion for design to help you realize your dreams.

Our Services

Architecture: Our architectural services include schematic design, design development, construction documentation, and construction administration. This service is tailored for people who have a project program, a budget, and a craving for good design.  Our studio has a wealth of experience turning our client’s visions into fine modern architecture.

Interiors: Full building renovations, interior buildouts, furniture selection, procurement, and design. We are always keeping up with current products and love to get into the materiality of space.  If an even more unique space is desired, we pair our interior design with custom furniture to create one-of-a-kind spaces tailored specifically for you.

Urban Design: We have extensive experience in a wide array of award-winning civic and urban projects. We can help with park spaces, mass transit, design guidelines, and visioning. Some of the best work we have had the pleasure of being involved with has been in the field of urban design.

Custom Furniture: For our more discerning clientele, we provide custom-designed standalone and built-in furniture. Each piece is uniquely designed to meet the needs of our clients. We work in conjunction with the finest millworkers and furniture makers to deliver exceptionally detailed, meticulously crafted, high-end furniture.

Pre-Design & Planning: It often helps to have professional assistance at the very beginning of a potential project. Understanding project goals and how they coincide with cost, time, and scope can be essential to success. This service is tailored for clients who want to gain knowledge and guidance before going full-steam-ahead. We can provide preliminary concepts, programming, planning, and pricing.

Who We Are

Tumu is owned and operated by wife-and-husband team Huili Feng and Ross Barney.

Our talented staff of architects and designers has a wealth of knowledge and experience that enhances every project we undertake.  Tumu partners with a host of exceptional and innovative engineers that we have developed long-standing relationships with over time. A well-considered team is assembled for each project we undertake to provide our clients with results that meet and exceed expectations.

Our Leadership

Huili Feng and Ross Barney have spent their professional careers creating award-winning projects at all scales: international high-rise office and mixed-use, hotels, public space, institutions, schools, private homes, furniture, and everything in between. Some of the projects they have worked on include The Chicago Riverwalk, Lincoln park Zoo Visitors Center, Jiang Bei Sports and Culture Center, O’Hare International Airport Intermodal Transportation Facility, Chicago Union Station Master Plan, and the Vertical Expansion of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Headquarters Building.

Huili was born and raised in China. Following her heart to pursue the dream of being an architect, she came to Chicago in 2002 without knowing anyone. After receiving her master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago, she worked for Goettsch Partners and helped the company to expand its market in designing commercial and mixed-use high-rise buildings in China. Huili and Ross met while working together at Goettsch’s office.

Ross is a native Chicagoan. He studied architecture at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.  As a young architect in New York, He worked as a designer for Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners.  He came back to his roots in Chicago in 2004 and worked at Goettsch Partners from 2004-2008 as a designer and project architect.

In 2006 and 2008, the two joined the practice of Carol Ross Barney, respectively. Huili and Ross were key members of many of the company’s prominent and award-winning works. In addition to their contribution to overall project design, Ross was instrumental in bringing BIM technology to the firm and Huili directed the interior and building material library.

Through all this experience the two have built up a broad knowledge of design, materials, and detailing. They bring understanding, expertise, and leadership to each one of the studio’s projects.

Other Passion

Outside of Tumu Studio, Huili and Ross share a passion for teaching and mentoring. Ross frequently holds a position as an Adjunct Professor at the IIT College of Architecture, where he has been teaching design since 2007. His studio was recognized by AIA Chicago in the 2012 Design Excellence Awards, receiving a Sustainability Leadership Award Special Recognition for their work on the Iron St. Farm Master Plan. Huili has led various architectural tours, presentations for schools and organizations. She has served as a studio critic at the School of the Art Institute. The two serve on the advisory board for Urban Growers Collective, a national nonprofit organization with a focus on environmental stewardship and community outreach through urban agriculture. They are both avid scuba divers and have a strong passion for environmental conservation.