Tumu is a full-service design studio focused on Architecture, Interiors, and Custom Furniture. We work on projects nationwide and have offices in Chicago IL, and Boulder CO.
What We Do
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.
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.
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.
When a client is unsure about the specifics that they would like to undertake with any project it is often good to begin with pre-design. We work with the client to learn about the site, existing conditions, and goals for the future project. Additionally, local zoning and land-use restrictions are studied. This work results in a report that defines the feasibility, programming, and/or budget of the project. This documentation can then be used by the owner to move forward with the project.
This is the first step in project design. We begin to work by synthesizing the project program and other requirements into several design concepts. These concepts are tested and explored through the use of 3D software, sketches, and physical models. The main goal of this phase is to get a general idea of the planning and feel of the building and spaces. By the end of this phase, the client and design team will decide on which design alternate to develop in further detail.
In this phase of work, detailed plans, material boards and models are produced as we refine and develop the chosen design concept from SD. Any additional required consultants (structural, MEP, landscape, etc.) will join the team and inform the design. Exterior and interior finishes will be decided and planning will be finalized. By the end of this phase, most major design decisions will be made. This can also be a good time to bring a contractor in for pre-construction services.
With the design of the project mostly finalized, the team prepares a set of detailed drawings and specifications. Building systems are defined, detailed, and integrated. All consultant design documents are reviewed and coordinated into the project documents. Once complete, this is the set of documents that will be used to obtain a permit from the building department and sent to contractors to establish construction cost, timeline, and ultimately build the project.
If the project requires a permit in order to be constructed, a document set is submitted to the local department of buildings for review and permit issuance. The building department reviews submitted documents for adherence to zoning laws, building codes, and local ordinances. During the permit review process, we answer questions that arise and modify the documents as required by the DOB. With the project permitted, construction can begin.
To build a project, the owner needs to choose and hire a contractor. If clients don’t know of, or have any preferred contractors that they would like to invite to bid on the project, we can help find appropriate companies for the work. We then prepare invitations and instructions for bidding and send the project documents to selected contractors. When bids come in, we review them for thoroughness and conformity and help to select the best contractor for the job.
During construction administration, the design team assists the client with monitoring the construction of the project to help assure that it is built according to the design. We make site visits to observe construction progress, answer questions, and review submittals from the contractor. We also assist in documenting and resolving unforeseen problems that arise during construction, review contractor invoices, and create a final punch list for project completion
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.
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.
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.