Tumu is owned and operated by Huili Feng and Ross Barney. Our practice of design and architecture began long before Tumu was born. Huili and Ross met in 2003 at the office of Goettsch Partners while working on international high-rise projects. Over the next decade they invested their time working at the highly renowned office of Ross Barney Architects, designing a vast array of works including public spaces such as the Chicago Riverwalk. After fifteen years of working on a diverse range of projects - from commercial buildings, urban and public spaces, interiors, and furniture - Tumu Studio was founded in 2017. The drive behind forming Tumu was the desire to bring our knowledge, passion, and experience to our clients in a more personal setting than we had been able to in our previous ventures.
We bring not only our knowledge of building materials and systems, but more importantly, our deep understanding of how to productively explore architectural processes. Since the beginning of the studio, our diverse cultural backgrounds, travels, and lived experiences across the world have given us the knowledge, resourcefulness, technical skill, and refined taste that form a distinct approach to our practice.
The name Tumu, originates from Chinese: “tu” meaning earth and “mu” meaning wood – two primary building materials that human beings have been using to shape our environment since the beginning of time. Together, the two base words make the word “Tumu” which translates simply to “build”. The name reflects the company’s love for nature and core design beliefs: authenticity and simplicity.
Born and raised in China, Huili followed her dream of becoming an architect to the US where she graduated from University of Illinois at Chicago. Over her career she has worked across numerous building typologies, led urban design projects, and managed interior libraries. Each experience has imparted a distinctive aspect to her design approach.Learn More
Ross grew up under the drafting tables of his mother’s architecture firm, where he began practicing at just 19 years old. A meticulous designer, he’s continuously honing his technical and creative skills to match his desire for perfection with the knowledge of how to achieve it. He is driven to design buildings that have a positive impact on people and the environment.Learn More
Abigail, a native of the Colorado foothills, possesses a profound appreciation for the natural landscape, shaping her commitment to environmentally conscious design. Joining Tumu Studio in 2023 as a project manager, she brings experience across diverse project types, emphasizing the importance of mindful design at every scale.Learn More
We have spent decades honing our craft. From environmental sustainability to detailing handles on a door, good design needs to have a finely tuned process in order to achieve its ambitions.