Tuesday, 10 March 2009

In Conversation with Brad Ford

Brad Ford is one of the most well-recognized up-and-coming young designers. His work has been published in House Beautiful, the New York Times,  as well as a number of other respected publications.

Brad Ford

He is able to uphold a signature, clean look while tackling various styles and colour palettes. Brad also maintains a great blog [ Design Therapy ] with posts about everything from projects to products to politics. With over 10 years of experience, an amazing portfolio and two degrees behind him he is most certainly going places! In my personal opinion Brad Ford is one of the coolest designers out there.

Iván Meade – What was your first experience with design?

Brad Ford –When I was around 10 years old, my mom decided it was time for me and my brother to each have our own bedroom. So she put up a dividing wall in the room we shared and told us we could each pick out our own wallpaper and furniture and decorate it any way we like. My room ended up being about an 8' sq. box and I picked out this psychedelic, over-scaled, leather belt wallpaper. The belts ran horizontally and vertically forming a giant plaid pattern, but the best part was the belt buckles! They were actually made of gold metallic mylar and I remember thinking it was so modern. I even had the wallpaper hanger put it on the ceiling. It was pretty insane, but I loved it and I knew then I loved design!

Iván Meade – Who or what has influenced your style?

Brad Ford –Probably one of my biggest influences has been nature. I'm originally from Arkansas and growing up I was surrounded by the most beautiful natural resources. We were always out on the lake, down by the river or up in the mountains. The forms and the textures and the colors in those landscapes have always had a huge influence in my design approach.

Photograph courtesy of Brad Ford

Iván Meade – How would you describe your style?

Brad Ford –Organic, earthy, modern, warm and soulful.

Photograph courtesy of Brad Ford

Iván Meade – What do you consider to be your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?

Brad Ford –I think I have a pretty good eye, but in this business patience counts for a lot. The design process is just that...a process. Whether it's decision making, lead times, vendors, contractors, scheduling, clients-this business requires a great deal of patience and I think I have a fair amount (.... sometimes.) This could also be looked at as a weakness, at least from a business perspective. If we're looking for a vintage piece of furniture or an interesting design element, I'll often tell my clients we should wait until the right piece comes along as opposed to getting something just to have it. Eventually we'll find the right thing, and the client ends up appreciating it in the end.

Photograph courtesy of Brad Ford

Iván Meade – What books are currently on your bedside or coffee table?

Brad Ford –On my bedside table is "My Life In France" by Julia Child...it is so charming and inspiring! On my coffee table is "LaLanne(s)" by Daniel Abadie and it features the work of husband and wife sculptors Francois-Xavier and Claude LaLanne. Their work is absolutely stunning and clever at the same time. It's a must have for any design enthusiast.

Photograph courtesy of Brad Ford

Iván Meade – What are you excited about right now in the world of design?

Brad Ford –Right now I'm excited about technology and it's impact on design. There are computer programs out there that are capable of figuring out certain engineering aspects in a design that might normally have taken a huge amount of time or manpower. A perfect example is the artist/designer Joris Laarman. He used software created by car manufacturer GM to create the Bone Chair which as far as I'm concerned is a technological and design masterpiece. Another example is Frank Gehry's new IAC building here in New York. The shapes and forms and how they relate to each other would have been a 2-dimensional nightmare on paper, but with computers they were able to create an incredibly complex structure! These advances really open up all sorts of creative possibilities and I'm hoping they'll trickle down to the designs of even the most mundane objects, whether it's a pencil or a coffee cup.

Photograph courtesy of Brad Ford

Iván Meade – On the day of Obama’s inauguration you posted 2 very patriotic entries. Are you excited with the recent American political change? How do you think this will affect our industry?

Brad Ford –I honestly can't imagine anyone not being excited about the political change. I feel like as soon as President Obama put his hand on that bible the United States regained instant credibilty from around the world. We're in a brand new century and I feel like it's time for everyone to start thinking in a forward manner. President Obama seems to have grasped that philosophy and I think it's beyond exciting. I know it's a bit unsettling right now with the economy, but history has proven that in times of great despair, great things happen. You don't have to look too far back to remember the industrial revolution. I think we're headed into a "technological revolution."

Photograph courtesy of Brad Ford

Iván Meade – What project has given you the most satisfaction?

Brad Ford –Definitely the mudroom I designed for the Hamptons Cottages and Garden show-house with the insects!

Photograph courtesy of Brad Ford

Iván Meade – In one of your projects you used a really interesting insect theme wallpaper – I found this selection really intriguing – what is the story behind this project?

Brad Ford -When they approached me to be a part of the show-house they said "how about the mudroom?" I jumped at the opportunity. I just loved the idea of trying to do something special with this often overlooked space. However, knowing it was the smallest room in the house, I knew I had to kick it up a notch in order to make it worth my time. I kept thinking about the function of a mudroom and how it's supposed to "protect" the rest of the house from outdoor elements. I thought why not bring in some of those outside elements and make them part of the design. Long story short .... I ended up attaching thousands of actual insects onto hand-printed wallpaper and I remember thinking to myself before anyone else saw it ...."This is either going to be the coolest thing I've ever done or the dumbest....I mean who puts dead bugs on the walls of a house in the Hamptons?" Luckily, it got a great reaction and really ended up putting my name on the map.

Photograph courtesy of Brad Ford

Iván Meade – What would be your dream project?

Brad Ford –Honestly....my dream project would be to design my very own house on a lake in a remote wooded area back home in the south, and then retire! All I have ever wanted is a house on the lake. I don't want it to be huge and I don't want it to be over the top. I just want a couple of fireplaces, stone floors and lots of windows. THAT is my dream project.

Photograph courtesy of Brad Ford

Iván Meade – What is your next design venture?

Brad Ford –I'm not exactly sure. To be honest, I'm still trying to figure that out. That's one of the reason's I started the blog [ Design Therapy ], to talk about things that interest me and to see if anything sticks. I love the idea of a small product line that includes a few pieces of furniture, possibly some tabletop accessories and lighting. I'd also love to write a book one day. And I love music and would love to do something related to that field. Sometimes I even find myself daydreaming about making a movie. I just think it would be the perfect format to combine a lot of my passions. Do you have any connections?

Photograph courtesy of Brad Ford

Iván Meade – Lastly, you have already created a stunning body of work with many mediums and styles. What would you like your legacy to be?

Brad Ford –Authentic.

I invite you to see more of Brad's work at:


MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011


DesignTies said...

Great post: I really enjoyed reading Brad's answers to the questions you put to him!
Brad's clean, modern asthetic and use of neutral colours is stunning. While I loved elements in each of the rooms you shared, my favourite would be the living space with the large orange painting behind the piano. Wonderful! I could totally live in this room!!

Lastly - kinda silly to mention - my brother's first name is Bradford (also a talented artist) - so the names of this desiger sit really well with me :-)

Victoria from EdinDesigns @ DesignTies

Things That Inspire said...

I always love learning about new designers, and Brad Ford's work is amazing. Great post!

Scot Meacham Wood said...

WOW. great post. really interesting.

Maria Killam said...

I really like his design aesthetic. I'll have to check out his blog next.

Thanks for your insightful comment on my art question. I like getting another point of view as it's something I've always wondered about. You are such a thoughtful person. It shows in your blog as well.

qerat said...

I love Brad's style. I am a fan of his work and constant visitor to his blog.

He has achieved his goal of being authentic. He manages to make the spaces look personal and I beleive that is the best design work.

Mrs B said...

What a fantastic post Ivan! I always appreciate posts that have an 'unique' element to them. Pictures are also very inspiring, I would love if in a few years time my house could look half as good as some of the interiors Brad has designed. It always facinates me where designers get their inspirations from. Excellent interview, looking forward to reading more.
Mrs B

ALL THE BEST said...

I love his design aesthetic!

Anonymous said...

He is really talented and really inventive - who else would have thought to put bugs on the walls?? It looks great though!

DesignTies said...

I enjoyed reading your interview with Brad. The spaces in all the pictures you posted are wonderful -- I especially like the vignette at the bottom of the staircase and the white table with the twiggy base.

My dream home is a lot like Brad's -- maybe he can come decorate mine after he's done with his ;-)

Kelly @ DesignTies

Unknown said...

Great interview Ivan!

Michelle said...

I love his philosophy of looking to nature; as a child growing up in Ucluelet, there was enough of it around!

I like the risks he takes, his authenticity ,and adore his interiors! I'm off to take a look at his website.

Great interview, as always Ivan :)

Anonymous said...

Great post...I really like his work. The bug idea was genius.