Identical twins Kirk and Nate Mueller sat side-by-side in identical leather chairs wearing identical GANT gabardine suits fiddling with identical Le Pen pens. It was chilly December afternoon just before the New Year at the Fort Greene offices of Studio Mercury, a boutique design firm made up entirely of alumni from the Rhode Island School of Design’s hyper-exclusive Digital + Media graduate program.
The Muellers’ similarities are more than superficial. The twins, who are 27 and stand 5’5″, share the same bank account. They share the same calendar. They share the same curriculum vitae. The same sexual orientation (gay), brownstone (Prospect Heights) and taste in boyfriends (“over 30”). They share the same profession, and the same specialty (interactive design). They even, in a manner of speaking, share an identity. Email the Brothers Mueller at their shared account, and the only way to tell which Mueller is responding is by whose name shows up first in the signature: Nate & Kirk versus Kirk & Nate.
“We have this little notation,” said Kirk.
“Some people figured it out,” chimed in Nate, who, along with his brother, seems unburdened by matters of selfhood.
One stutters trying to figure out how to address them. “The Brothers, the Brothers Mueller, or ‘the twins,’ or ‘the boys,’” Kirk said.
In the year and a half since the Brothers got their master degrees from RISD—sharing the podium as commencement speakers in 2010—and moved to New York, they have created iPad apps for Martha Stewart and e-books for Vanity Fair and Bon Appetit. Coming soon are a political website for The New Yorker and an iPad app for Newsweek. Whereas most graphic and user-interface designers tend to hand off the technical work, the brothers do it all, relying on Nate’s speed in programming and Kirk’s facility with design.