Riding the wave of the success of his upstate New York design fair, Field + Supply, designer Brad Ford is bringing the innovative artisan handiwork he’s known for—and a well-edited look and feel—to a 2,000-square-foot space at the New York Design Center called Fair. In an exclusive with EAL, he shares about his latest move. Field + Supply will return over Columbus Day weekend. Ford’s new showroom is scheduled for a September 17 opening in tandem with What's New What's Next.
Brad Ford in his future showroom, Fair, at NYDC / Photo by Emily Francis Olson for Editor at Large
How did you decide on the name "Fair"?
Last October I organized a modern makers craft fair in upstate New York called Field + Supply. The focus was on modern, elevated craftsmanship showcasing designers from the Hudson Valley area as well as makers who work here in the city. This is an extension of that concept, but a bit more edited and slightly more elevated from the original fair. I also really like the different connotations associated with the word “Fair”, whether it be a small county fair or a high-end design fair, or being diplomatic, or thinking of it in terms of being “pretty”, such as the “fairest of them all.” Also, when I think of a fair I think of a community, a gathering of some sort where everyone is celebrating a common purpose. There’s a simple sort of elegance to the word and I hope to bring that same tone to the showroom.
Exhibitor vingette from Field + Supply 2014
Can you share what pieces or designers you’ll carry?
A lot of the same artisans who showed their work at Field + Supply will be represented at Fair. Several of them are designers and craftspeople that I’ve worked with over the years on my own high-end design projects. I have established relationships with them and know how beautifully executed their workmanship is. They also have the right balance of artistry and thoughtfulness so there’s a timelessness to their work which I think has a lot of value. For me, their work should be considered future heirlooms that will last for generations.
Are there certain pieces you’re particularly excited about?
I’m excited about all of the work that will be represented and have tried to create a nice cross-section of products from each designer. I’ve also worked hard to find the right group of makers whose work doesn’t necessarily compete with, but rather compliment one another. My goal is for this same group to be inspired by each other’s work and to push themselves to be more innovative. I also hope this will become a network for them to lean on one another with regards to sharing and learning certain techniques, or how to be more efficient with running their businesses. There have even been some preliminary talks of collaborations between the artisans, which I think could very exciting.
Why did you choose to bring your showroom to NYDC?
NYDC was really enthusiastic and supportive of my Field + Supply event upstate and they approached me about trying to develop a similar concept that made sense for their building. I was definitely hesitant at first, but Jim Druckman and I met a number of times to discuss how it would work and it basically developed into somewhat of an atelier in a design center context. I realized that aside from design fairs such as ICFF or the AD Home show, a lot of these artisans didn’t have any type of platform to showcase their work in a more permanent way. It also felt like there was a small gap in the market for this type of work, so I thought why not try to fill it. Jim and his team have been incredibly generous with their time and knowledge of the industry and I certainly couldn’t have done this without their support. Also, as a startup it felt like the best option was to be cautious and start small, and be in a place where there’s already instant foot traffic built in.
What is it like to transition from designer to retailer? How will this affect your design business?
I’m definitely not giving up my interior design business anytime soon. I still plan on having a small number of interior design projects. And I have no doubt it’s going to be a lot of work to balance both the design business and the showroom, but I’ve got a good team in place and I’m moving my design office to NYDC as well so I can oversee both entities. We’re planning on having a soft opening in time for What’s New What’s Next so I hope people will stop by to meet some of the artisans and get a peek at what’s in store at Fair.