October 2, 2017

10 Questions With… Brad Ford

We’ve been following the work of Brad Ford ID for over a decade. One project that still lingers in our minds was Ford’s airy penthouse for the 2011 Kips Bay Decorator Show House, its blonde wooden paneling and eclectic furniture yielding a beachy, breezy aesthetic in the middle of Gotham. The Arkansas native, who received his interior design degree from FIT, continues his interiors work, but, since 2014, has expanded his purview to modern-maker fair founder, namely Field + Supply, which takes place this year October 6-8 at a brand-new site, Hutton Brickyards in Kingston, New York. And many of the exhibitors—small companies he finds that handcraft unique wares—end up at Fair, Ford’s showroom at the New York Design Center. He gives us the scoop.

Interior Design: Congrats on Field + Supply version 4.0! Tell us about this year’s site.

Brad Ford: This is our third location—we keep outgrowing the previous sites! Hutton Brickyards is a beautiful, newly renovated event complex that’s the perfect backdrop for this year’s fair, our biggest yet with some 90 different makers. (Plus, we’re happy to keep company with the likes of Bob Dylan, who recently hosted a concert there.) We’ve also partnered with Smorgasburg for the first time, so there’ll be tasty food vendors alongside all the talented makers, as well as with eBay Collective.

ID: Does that mean there’ll be an online component to Field + Supply?

BF: Not this year, but it’s definitely something being explored. eBay is interested in cultivating relationships with a lot of the makers and introducing them to the benefits of various platforms.

ID: Are there any makers who are repeat exhibitors?

BF: Yes, too many to list! And, furniture designer Asher Israelow, ceramist Eric Bonnin, and JWB Bows have been with us for all four years. I always buy a new arrow from JWB to commemorate that particular year.

Asher Israelow Jewel Table. 

ID: Which first-time exhibiting makers are you excited about?

BF: All of them! Among the many new vendors are furniture designer Patrick Weder and ceramic lighting designer LowLand Studio.

ID: Did growing up in Arkansas spark your idea for Field + Supply?

BF: Yes, I grew up going to arts and crafts shows—they were really my first introduction to design. I also appreciated the social component they had, they were a real happening that I looked forward to every year.

After living in New York for a while, I knew there was an insanely talented group of people in our industry that wasn’t being recognized or was being overlooked by the growing segment of big-box stores. Field + Supply celebrates design and craftsmanship. We have to educate people of the value of this type of work. There are still so many designers out there that should be recognized—not just in the New York area, but across the country and the world. I want Field + Supply to become the Woodstock of design.

ID: How has the fair affected your interiors work?

BF: Beyond sheer inspiration, it’s made me understand the value of craftsmanship—and the skill, passion, and patience it requires to make something by hand—even more than before. Bringing in even just one handcrafted piece instantly adds soul to a room.

ID: Do you still have time to do interiors?

BF: Yes, but I’m more selective about the type and number of projects. A recent one is the model apartment for the Cast Iron House in TriBeCa by Shigeru Ban. We were asked to design it using pieces specifically from my showroom Fair. Seeing the furniture in context is beneficial to potential loft buyers as well as showroom clients.

Shigeru Ban’s Cast Iron House model apartment decorated by Brad Ford ID. Photography by Scott Frances.

ID: Who’s a designer you have your eye on for a client or yourself?

BF: I’m crazy about young California woodworker/artist Julian Watts, whose sculptures are meticulously executed. I bought several of them from his show last summer at Patrick Parrish. He could be easily become the next Alma Allen.  

ID: Which person, place, or thing inspires you?

BF: Nature. I practice the Japanese art of Shinrin-yoku at my house in Upstate New York. The idea is that being surrounded by nature, even if it’s just a walk through the woods, heals and restores. It has opened my mind, increased my creativity, and been a calming influence over the years.

ID: What’s an item you couldn’t live without?

BF: A sense of humor!

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