‘Moku’ means ‘wood’ in Japanese. It’s also the name of a budding business that’s carved out a place for itself on Martha’s Vineyard. Moku Artisan Furniture is inspired by aesthetic from around the world. Handcrafted mostly with walnut and oak, each piece’s minimalist, mid-century design offers clean and simple lines that let nature do the talking. Founders Marina Jurcevic and Slobodan Todorovic know not to distract from the soft, elegant charm of handcrafted wood.
“The simpler the better,” Jurcevic told The Times.
Moku began less than two years ago, when Jurcevic teamed up with her brother, Mario, who was handcrafting wooden furniture in Belgrade, Serbia, Jurcevic and Todorovic’s home country.
“I said, ‘This is amazing. Let’s bring it to the U.S.,’” Jurcevic recalled. When Todorovic came on board, the duo delved into a new Martha’s Vineyard–based venture, designing and selling wooden furniture manufactured by Mario and his small team of skilled craftsmen in Belgrade.
“These are people with 15 years of experience in carpentry,” Todorovic said. “There’s no rush in anything. Most pieces take about three months.”
Moku has an online presence and an Etsy shop with armoires, bookcases, dressers, credenzas, chairs, beds, desks, tables, and more. Each piece is customizable, made from solid wood, and oiled to enhance the natural look, feel, and texture of the product. The collection has simple, distinct details. Prices range from around $450 to $3,000.
“We have a unique advantage,” Jurcevic said. “In [Serbia] there’s a lot of beautiful wood that you can’t find [in the U.S.].”
“Like 150-year-old walnut,” Todorovic said. “The colors are different.”
Pieces are also inspired by European aesthetic, as well as design adapted from Bali, Japan, and other parts of Asia, where Jurcevic and Todorovic have spent time traveling.
“We try to implement different looks we’ve seen from our travels into the design,” Jurcevic said.
“Different cultures, different people we’ve met — it all influences our ideas,” Todorovic added.
And it’s that very wanderlust that brought Jurcevic and Todorovic to the Island in the first place. Todorovic arrived seven years ago; Jurcevic arrived five years ago.
“We’re from the same country, but we had to cross half of the world to meet,” Jurcevic laughed.
They arrived as J-1 students, and “fell in love” with Martha’s Vineyard. “I’d visited New Jersey and Florida, and then I came here, and it’s a little like a fairy tale,” Todorovic said. “I love the people — the community. Everyone has an honest, genuine smile. People stop to ask you how you are, and they mean it. The big world loses that.”
Todorovic spent many years bartending at M.V. Chowder Co., and Jurcevic works at Linda Jean’s in Oak Bluffs. Both have scaled back on those jobs to dedicate more time to Moku — a business that’s taken off faster than they expected.
Todorovic and Jurcevic have driven bed frames to upstate New York, desks to North Carolina, and when Scott Mullin of Brickyard in Vineyard Haven discovered their work, they drove a few pieces over to the Main Street shop.
“We try to deliver pieces to clients ourselves,” Todorovic said. “When you’re buying something that’s going to last you generations, we like to be there.”
“We can’t deliver everything, but we try to, especially if it’s on the East Coast,” Jurcevic added.
Jurcevic and Todorovic are working on expanding Moku’s presence on Martha’s Vineyard and beyond.
“We just got approached by a company in London that wants to include us in their portfolio,” Todorovic said of Eporta, a European business that connects trade buyers and designers. They’re also prepping for a New York City expo next August. “It’s basically an interior design fair,” Jurcevic said. “We need that big exposure, so we’re getting ready for that.”
This winter, Jurcevic and Todorovic will head back to Serbia to work on a new line.
“There will be a major update, new pieces, new photography. Most of the pieces on our site now are selling out,” Jucevic said.
And feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. One Etsy customer wrote, “I had the hardest time finding an armoire for clothing that was more modern in look. Finally happened upon this shop … they were able to alter the dimensions … would order from this store again.”
“That’s what I love to read,” Jurcevic said.
“We feel we have something very unique,” Todorovic said. “This is just the beginning.”