Brad Ascalon is a very talented Designer in NYC. Creation and material mix is what characterizes him. Brad has worked for many international and renamed companies that have valued and recognized his work.
Celia from Blue Spice had the opportunity to question him about his creations and his work, answers below:
I’m very fortunate to be a third generation designer and craftsman in my family. My grandparents on my father’s side and my uncle were artists, sculptors, designers and inventors, and my father still has his own design and art fabrication practice. The love for creating is part of my DNA. From an early age, music was my outlet. It was the path I thought my future would take and where I made some strides early on, both as a musician and on the business side of the industry.
At a certain point, my love for the visual arts took over, followed by my love for design, which I see as the perfect marriage of art and business – the merger of all my past endeavors. I can’t say exactly when I knew I had the talent for design, but early on my work drew the attention of some very important design brands, such as Ligne Roset and Bernhardt Design, and that’s when I realized the path in front of me was the one I should be taking.
My grandfather and father were always amazing craftsmen. I grew up in an environment where I learned traditional crafts and processes such as metal sculpture, mosaics and stained glass. I learned to have the utmost respect for these materials and crafts at a young age. This is the foundation I have built my career upon. So much more than inspirational or influential, my family was pivotal in my success as a designer.
My work is reductive. I will comb through a design over and over again in an attempt to rid it of anything superfluous, anything that doesn’t reflect the purity of the concept, the function and the form. But I also see this process as a sliding scale based on the brand I’m working with. In the end, my work isn’t about me. It is the intersection of me and that brand.
I tend to see external inspiration as overrated. As a designer who looks at my craft as a driver of business for my clients, the only inspiration I need are those I get directly from the materials and processes I am using, and from the goals that my clients and I are aiming to achieve collaboratively. I’m inspired by a common vision for any given project.
Innovation and Design are inextricably linked because as a designer, there is always that interplay of working with innovation and working against it. Innovation in and of itself shouldn’t be a goal. There needs to be a good reason for it. Pushing what a material or a process can do is exciting, and we all like to explore in this arena, but we sometimes ignore the history of that material’s craft or the fact that companies, towns and cities around the world have roots in these traditions. I think that in the US particularly, our society tends to eliminate what’s old for what’s new far too quickly. So we tear down beautiful, historic buildings and replace them with innovative glass and steel structures. We tend to rush toward that future we always imagined, but it doesn’t always feel natural to do so. I think this is a huge reason for the insurgence of the maker movement here in the US. It seems like a backlash against the continuous expectation of innovation. Sometimes materials and processes can and should simply speak for themselves, and sometimes designers just want to respect that. Sometimes craft for its own sake is the greatest thing we can offer our industry.
I’ve built my career on collaborating with my clients. I alluded to this in an earlier question, but I don’t see the field of design as having to be a reflection of the designer alone. I see design as the perfect combination of what I know and do best with what my clients know and do best. This is what Design is about. It is a dialogue. It is a dance. It is a team sport.
As I mentioned earlier, I do love the use of traditional materials and processes, and that is certainly instrumental in a majority of my studio’s work. Another aspect of our work that I’ve been placing a lot of importance on over the past couple of years is a systems approach to design. Much of the work we’re doing now is becoming larger in scale, and we are constantly looking for opportunities to expand product lines into fuller collections while keeping part counts down and keeping tooling and production costs low for our clients. When addressing larger collections with more of a kit-of-parts approach, whether it is furniture or decorative objects, it can have tremendous payoffs for the brands we partner with in terms of both marketing possibilities and sales returns.