Dennis Scully: From our headquarters in New York City, this is Business of Home. I'm your host, Dennis Scully. Every week, I'll be talking to leaders and innovators from all corners of the industry. I hope you'll join me.
Kaitlin P.: This week, we have a special message from Business of Home. I'm Kaitlin Petersen, editor and chief of BOH, and I'm excited to share our fall issue with you. With a focus on leadership, the issue highlights company culture, the importance of mentorship in design firms, and how the industry's favorite family brands are making it work. Don't miss another issue. Subscribe today at businessofhome.com/subscribe, that's businessofhome.com/subscribe. And now, on with the show.
Dennis Scully: My guest this week is Brad Ford, interior designer and founder of Field and Supply. Brad, welcome.
Brad Ford: Thank you. Nice to be here.
Dennis Scully: So Brad, I know that you grew up in Arkansas. Tell us a little bit about that.
Brad Ford: Yeah. I grew up in Arkansas, I've lived there my entire life until about the age of 24. Beautiful state. It's called the natural state because of all the natural resources, and I think to this day, a lot of that has really inspired some of my work as far as texture and color. I originally went to school for business and economics, but knew that I had a lot of creativity that I needed to let out. So I was really interested in design, I think from an early age, but coming from a small town just did not know how to pursue it. And so, after I got out of school, I built a small home there in Arkansas.
Dennis Scully: You did, you built a home?
Brad Ford: I worked with a developer that was putting in a neighborhood, and I just loved that process. I loved the layout, picking out the materials. I remember there was a really talented interior designer by the name of George Anderson who was in the town that I was working in, and he had an office. And I say that with pause because-
Dennis Scully: He has an office.
Brad Ford: I know it sounds funny, but in my mind, growing up in a small town, if you were ever interested in interior design, it was the local furniture store where you would go and you'd meet someone that worked there to help you pick out the furniture, the pillows, the fabric.
Dennis Scully: So no one did interior design professionally as far as you knew at the time?
Brad Ford: Right. And so, I was interested and, believe it or not, the company that I worked for was located just across the street from George's office. And so I just called and asked if I could make an appointment, and he was so lovely. We sat there and talked, and I said, "You know, if I was ever interested in pursuing this as a career, what would you suggest?" And the first thing out of his mouth was, "You need to move to New York City."
Dennis Scully: He said, "Get out of here, and get to NYC"?
Brad Ford: Yeah. But it was like a kick in the gut because I just thought, "My God, I just can't imagine moving to New York."
Dennis Scully: You couldn't imagine leaving?
Brad Ford: The town I was from was like 24,000, and growing up there you just hear such crazy stories about the city and the cost of living and how dangerous it is, and Central Park, stay away.
Dennis Scully: Muggers?
Brad Ford: Exactly. And so the whole thing just made me so nervous.
Dennis Scully: Had you ever been to New York at that point?
Brad Ford: I had been one time when I was probably 13 or 14, and I loved it. I thought it was such a great city. But again, I just couldn't imagine how you made that work.
Dennis Scully: How do people live there.
Brad Ford: Anyway, I went back to work-
Dennis Scully: So what were you doing at the time? What was the work that you were doing?
Brad Ford: I was actually working for a company called Axiom, which was a big marketing company with data, actually. And so people would go to Axiom for information from catalogs from anywhere that collected information to create list for their own database. It might be American Express, it might be J Crew. It's a really, really huge company that was founded and headquartered there in Arkansas. And believe it or not, I worked on computers with the software programs and collecting data for particular clients that we had. Right out of school, I thought it was just the most fantastic job because it was so challenging, it was my first job.
Brad Ford: I quickly learned, probably after two years that this was just not for me.
Dennis Scully: This wasn't what you want to spend your life doing?
Brad Ford: No. Like I said, I had built that house, which I really loved the process, but then I thought, "Okay, now I'm like locked into this mortgage in a job that is like I'm just a number out of thousands of employees." And I just thought, "I think I've got more to offer creatively than what I'm doing in this job." And again, it was a great company. I really appreciated the opportunity, but I just knew there was more for me to explore. And so I went back to that job for probably another six months, and just was really feeling blue about everything.
Brad Ford: And so I thought, "You know what, let me just check into schools, design schools, and maybe there's a way to make this work."
Dennis Scully: In New York?
Brad Ford: In New York. And so I started to research and looked at Parsons, FIT, New York School of Interior Design, and just collected information. FIT seemed like for me at the time, the most affordable, they actually had on campus housing. And I just thought, "Okay, now I'm going to go visit." And they had required that you put together a portfolio, and I had nothing. I really had nothing. So I created, I just designed this book that had sketches and photographs of the house that I had done, and I really worked hard on that portfolio and I was quite proud of it. And I came to New York. Long story short; I was accepted into the school.
Dennis Scully: So they loved the book?
Brad Ford: Yeah, they loved the portfolio. I got in. I just started checking off the things that needed to be done to make this happen. I rented the house that I had built, gave my notice at work, sold my car, did all the things to get ready. I came and I thought ... I remember the worst part of it was the anticipation and the unknown of what it was going to be like once I got here. But when I finally arrived, I felt just right at home. I couldn't believe, Dennis, this is what was so hilarious, was that I was starting completely over, moving back into a dorm room.
Brad Ford: And I just thought, "I can't believe I'm starting all over and I'm so old," and I was like 24 at the time.
Dennis Scully: You thought your best years were behind you?
Brad Ford: Exactly. Exactly. But it was really the greatest thing I could do. I just loved New York, and I honestly, it was like a sponge when I first got here because I had never been exposed to so much design, and I mean from restaurants, to shopping, to museums, just the city itself. And it was just such a great moment to really open up my mind and be exposed to real design. So it was a great move.
Dennis Scully: It was transformational move in so many ways?
Brad Ford: Absolutely.
Dennis Scully: So the minute you got in to FIT, you knew that this was the path you wanted to go down?
Brad Ford: Yeah. I was still sort of unsure because even ... I do remember this. I remember going to class and loving the assignments for the first time ever-
Dennis Scully: How exciting?
Brad Ford: As far as school was concerned. I think I'm looking back, I always had a lot of creativity, but when you're in school, especially in a small town ... At that time, keep in mind there was no internet, so you collected information from magazines, from TV. I just wasn't really ever exposed to a lot of design. I know we may get to it a little bit, but one of my first exposures to design were craft fairs. And I think that's one of the reasons that I had always really responded to craft shows, arts and craft shows, was because of that's where I could see creativity. It was also sort of a happening.
Brad Ford: It was always a lot of people there, and it happened once a year in my small town.
Dennis Scully: Let's stay with that for a minute because I do think that that's so sweet. So the craft fair would come to town. Tell me about that.
Brad Ford: Well, it was once a year, it was usually in the fall, and it was at Arkansas Tech University, which was the local university. It was a building called Tucker Coliseum, which is where they had basketball. They would just come and there would be tons of people from all over the state bringing their latest crafts. And I think the thing that I always really liked about it was it would be everything from a rocking chair to homemade preserves. It was really a cross section of all sorts of goodies.
Brad Ford: And then like I said, it was very social. There were a lot of people there. It was fun to see people catch up, look around at all the different artisans and their work. So it was just always a really great memory for me.
Dennis Scully: So that was a little seed that got planted all those years ago, right?
Brad Ford: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Dennis Scully: Years later, you'll discover what you're going to do with that?
Brad Ford: Right.
Dennis Scully: Okay. So let's go back now. So you're at FIT, and you're finally enjoying your classes. I don't know how you got through your economics classes before.
Brad Ford: Me either. But I will say this, it was a great foundation because I do think that it has served me well as far as having that degree, that business and economics degree.
Dennis Scully: In helping you to run your business?
Brad Ford: Exactly.
Dennis Scully: So that was helpful, and you did it in reverse order, you learned about business and then you got to go out and discover how much you love design.
Brad Ford: Right. And I did. I had one professor, in particular, that was so pivotal as far as my move to New York. It was a gentleman named Jack Travis, and he was an architect. His office was up in Harlem. And he just really responded to my work and to my ideas, and I think it gave me a lot of confidence as far as feeling like, "Oh wow, maybe I am pretty good at this." They would give some assignments that were pretty simple, and then some were very, very complex. And he was always very honest with me, but very encouraging.
Brad Ford: And I always think about him because that was my very first professor in any real design course that I think helped me understand design, understand what it took to think outside the box and be creative, but also be really smart about the way you approach it and execute.
Dennis Scully: So tell me what that means. Tell me what being really smart about design and execution.
Brad Ford: I think I'm still learning, Dennis. It's one of those things where there's a lot of ideas out there, and I think one of the things that you have to really think about is how to filter those ideas and edit some of those ideas into something that makes sense for the program requirements, whether that's a living room, a restaurant. And not just to try to use all your ideas up at one time. One of the things that I think about every time I approach design is how to ... I get more interested in editing that I do layering. And I think part of that is because when I was in Arkansas, and maybe Southern design is heavily layered and that was something that I did when I built my house, is just-
Dennis Scully: Okay, so you had that heavily layered look originally?
Brad Ford: Absolutely. And I think when I came to New York, and whether it was Jack or just being exposed to the city or some of the designers that I worked with afterschool, learning how to edit down. Joe Durso has this saying that I love, and it was, "Decorating is all about addition and design is about subtraction," and I love that. And I thought, "How can you really create something of interest with as few things as possible?" And that's one of the things that I try to do with a lot of my own work, is try to create something that's really impactful but isn't just heavily layered and just globed onto.
Dennis Scully: And that's what so fascinated by in your work, your work is so sophisticated, if I can use that word.
Brad Ford: Please. Thank you.
Dennis Scully: Yeah. And I was thinking about this the other day when I was in your showroom. Brad has a showroom in 200 Lexington Fair, which is a beautiful space, and everything in that showroom worked together seamlessly. Nothing in there was heavy, nothing was highly decorated, it all made sense together. And it's very similar to your, to your projects and the kind of work that you. I'm so surprised that you grew up not being exposed to interior design, you had to learn that editing and the way to really see things.
Brad Ford: I was really fortunate, Dennis, to work with two gentlemen who I still just have such great admiration for. The first was Jed Johnson, who I worked for, I started working for him my second year at FIT. And what's funny is again, at the time, there was no internet. A student that I was in class with said, "I know this place is hiring part time, if you want to check it out." And I said, "Okay." And the firm was Jed Johnson and Associates. Jed has partnered with Allen [Watsonberg 00:15:42], the architect. I thought, "Okay, I'll check it out." Didn't know a thing about him.
Dennis Scully: Didn't know who he was and that he was a big deal?
Brad Ford: Yeah. And so I go, I interview and they're like, "Okay, you can start working here now." I was literally returning samples, dusting the furniture, whatever they needed me do.
Dennis Scully: Sure, whatever you had to do.
Brad Ford: But, the first day they said, "Show up to an address and meet us at this apartment." I show up, and it was 72nd street, and it was The Dakota. And I did recognize that building from Rosemary's Baby, that where John Lennon had been shot. I just said, "God, this is incredible." I go up into the apartment, and I just thought, "Okay, this is cool. I think this is going to be a cool place to work." And then obviously the more I learned about Jed and his history with Andy Warhol, and just the clients that he worked with.
Brad Ford: And just also the design aesthetic was very edited. It was very understated, and I think that's when I started to realize that, "Okay, there is this balance between architecture, furniture, artwork and landscape." And I was immediately fascinated with that. And how can you create this harmony with all of these different things trying to work together. Jed was so good at that. He was really great at that. And I think one of the reasons was because his clients had just phenomenal art collections, museum quality pieces.
Brad Ford: And so I worked for Jed for a couple of years and then an opportunity came around for me to work for someone named Thad Hayes.
Dennis Scully: He's another incredibly talented designer.
Brad Ford: Thad also was an incredible designer, but also someone who was very into editing and very understated interiors. Jed's work was a little bit more traditional while Thad's was more focused on mid century design. And I think that's when I really fell for that type of furniture, and that period, and that point of view. I learned so much from both of them and just being exposed to their eye and their sensibility. I think that's another reason why I have such an appreciation for things that are very understated.
Dennis Scully: Well, what an incredible way to go to school, between FIT, Jed Johnson and Thad Hayes, some of the best in the industry.
Brad Ford: I know. Really fortunate, and I certainly don't take it for granted by any means.
Dennis Scully: And so then, when did you decide to go out on your own? When were you ready to do that?
Brad Ford: Probably, I worked for Thad, off and on for maybe three, four years. I just knew. I mean, looking back, I don't know what I was thinking. I could have stayed much longer and gotten exposed to much more work and process, but I was just eager. A client approach me about a house that he was doing in Martha's Vineyard from the ground up. It just felt like, "Okay, maybe this is my time to think about going out on my own." And I felt like I had a lot to say. I was just eager, I was ready, probably premature, but I did it anyway. And so with that first job, with the deposit, I was able to get a computer, a printer and just set up a home office and just hit the ground running.
Brad Ford: I thought, "This is it, I'm going to just go."
Dennis Scully: Yes, I've got my own business, here we go.
Brad Ford: And it was a little slow at times, but I just kept going. Tom Felicia, now we're very good friends, he was working at Parish Hadley at the time. We would just exchange stories and feed off each other as far what was happening in design.
Dennis Scully: I'm sure that was fun.
Brad Ford: It was crazy.
Dennis Scully: I can imagine.
Brad Ford: Honestly, I think we had more fun in the evenings than we did in the day.
Dennis Scully: I was going to say. I'm sure a lot of drinking was involved.
Brad Ford: We had so much fun. But it's just been interesting to see how we've gone in different directions, but I admire what he does and I think he still has an admiration for what I'm doing. But, all that to say I just stuck with it and started to get busier and busier and better clients. But one thing that I always kept thinking about was, and I don't know if this was my business and economics background and thinking about business, but I just thought, "This is a really hard business to ever scale. Because as an interior designer, I'm the only asset."
Brad Ford: And so it was always fascinated in ways to diversify and have a leg of the business that would be scalable. That was something that was always in the back of my mind in trying to think about ways to do that. I think that that's where I started to think about field and supply, the showroom. Some of those things were things I had always thought about doing, but wasn't really necessarily sure how to execute it. But as soon as things started to fall into place, which happened very organically, I could quickly strategize and think, "Okay, wait, I can see how this can be monetized, I can see how this can be scaled, I can see how this can grow and me not feel like I have to be involved in every single decision the way you are with design projects."
Dennis Scully: So had you ever brought on a group of associates for your firm?
Brad Ford: Oh yeah. I always had like an assistant, then maybe two assistants. And I think that's when I started to get nervous. Was like, "I have to keep on figuring out these jobs that are coming on in order to cover overhead." And that just made me nervous and sort of took the fun out of the creative part of interior design.
Dennis Scully: And a lot of designers tell me that, that the business development part of it is the part of it they often enjoy the least, but that's actually the most important part in some ways, right? To keep it going.
Brad Ford: Oh, absolutely. I have to be incredibly organized. You have to manage things to a T, and I think we were always good at that. I think the problem is, as a creative person, you can start to lose your enthusiasm very quickly, especially if you were to get a client that may not be the best client.
Dennis Scully: Right. I've heard of those.
Brad Ford: I've been very fortunate over the years to have really nice clients, but I have had a couple of stinkers.
Dennis Scully: And that can drain your creative energy quite a bit.
Brad Ford: Absolutely.
Dennis Scully: We're going to take a quick break for a word from our sponsor, but we'll be right back.
Kaitlin P.: Pathfinders, change makers, boundary breakers. And now, cover stars. In our fall issue, Business of Home goes inside the working lives of eight visionary women leading the design industry. Read more at businessofhome.com/fall2018. And now, on with the show.
Dennis Scully: So what came first? The showroom or field of supply.
Brad Ford: Field of supply. Okay. And again, it all happened, it was so organic. We had gotten a house upstate about six years ago. First of all, I just loved that, being able to get out of the city.
Dennis Scully: Being upstate. So where did you get your house?
Brad Ford: It's a little town called Accord, and it's near Stone Ridge, Kingston. It's Ulster County.
Dennis Scully: It's lovely area.
Brad Ford: I loved that area. And funny enough, Dennis, I had never really spent that much time there. I had always spent my summers out east in Montauk for 20 years. A friend of mine was going up state to look at real estate and I tagged along and I just thought, "My God, this is gorgeous up here." And it actually reminded me so much of Arkansas. And so the first time I went up there, I thought, "God, I feel like I'm home." I saw a house that day with their realtor that I pointed out to the realtor and said, "Oh, I love the way that looks."
Brad Ford: A few weeks later, he called me and said, "That house you liked came on the market." It was a really cool little house that's on a tiny body of water that I always joke is either the biggest pond you've ever seen or the tiniest lake, because it's a really great body of water, but it's not huge. It's a beautiful piece of property. The house had a very Japanese quality about it. It had been a little white farm house that was redone by a woman named Nancy Copely, and she was an architect in her 80s, really ahead of her time.
Brad Ford: She was good friends with George Nakashima, and had such a great eye. And she had bought this property and she had redone that house. The farm house had a chicken house and a barn, all in the same area. And so she renovated all three properties, and we ended up with a little white farm house that was right on the water. It's like this tree house that is literally surrounded by all these trees. I think I for the first time in years, felt relaxed and felt like I was back to nature.
Brad Ford: I'm reading this really cool book right now called forest bathing, I don't know if you know about it.
Dennis Scully: Oh, I do know about it.
Brad Ford: It's just such a cool concept that really can be so therapeutic to be around trees and nature. And I can assure you that based on having the place upstate, it's true. All that to say, once I had the house, we'd go up on the weekends. There was a barn that we were passing every weekend on the way to the house that was being renovated, and whoever was doing it was doing a beautiful job. It was in this big field. It was in a little town called High Falls, it was this black barn. And so I just watched that progress every weekend, and it just kept getting better and better.
Brad Ford: And I thought, "Whoever is doing this is doing a phenomenal job."
Dennis Scully: They're so talented.
Brad Ford: And so finally, a gentleman was out there one day and we stopped and I got out and introduced myself and I said, "I love what you're doing to this place, but do you have any thoughts about what you're going to use it for?" And he said, "I have no idea." He said, "I just took on this project for fun, and it's gotten out of control and I don't know what I'm going to do." And so I said, "Well, let me think about it because I'd love to do something here." And I had always thought about this concept of modernizing an elevating an arts and crafts fair. And part of that idea was the fact that I still loved those memories of an arts and crafts fair.
Brad Ford: But as an adult when I went, it kind of felt like the stuff wasn't necessarily relevant to what I was working on or where my taste had landed. And so I thought, "What if we could capture that spirit, but have work there that is really elevated and sophisticated?" And so I started to think about it, and I thought, "Well, maybe it's that black barn in that field."
Dennis Scully: Maybe it starts there.
Brad Ford: Yeah. I just started to reach out to some people that I had worked with on projects, some artisans and craftspeople, and said "I have this idea, I don't know if it'll work, but are you interested? Should we think about it?" And everyone that I spoke to was very enthusiastic about it. This was in at the end of July, and I thought that I wanted to do it Columbus Day weekend in October, which was very, not a lot of time.
Dennis Scully: To put together a fair.
Brad Ford: Exactly. But I managed to get, I think a little more than two dozen different vendors. And at the time, Apparatus Studio had only been open about a year, and they were starting to think about table top. And so I spoke to Gabriel and Jeremy, and they were on board, and I spoke to Dave from the Future Perfect who had some crafts people at the time, and he was like, "I'll do it." BDW actually did it that first year, and so we had a lot of really good people.
Dennis Scully: This is pretty A list group that you put together.
Brad Ford: It's a very great group at the beginning. We somehow managed to pull this off, Dennis, I don't know how.
Dennis Scully: So you've got everyone together in the barn?
Brad Ford: We got everyone together in the field and in the barn.
Dennis Scully: Got it.
Brad Ford: And that's one of the ways we came up with the name Field With Supplies, as we were going to supply the work and in this field. Anyway, we had no idea what to expect, it was kind of social media, Instagram was relatively new, and I thought everyone needs to really promote this on their Instagram account, it'll help magnify the message. We opened up that weekend. One of the reasons I wanted to do it in the fall was just because I love that time of year, there's a Christmas in the air, there's a lot happening upstate at that time with the apple picking.
Dennis Scully: Sure, it's a beautiful time.
Brad Ford: Oh, I love that time of the year. And so we probably had, I think close to 1,500 people that first year and it's a little town of 500 people. We just knew then that people were hungry for something like this. And my first thought was, "Oh great, this worked." And then my second thought was, "Crap, I'm going to do it again."
Dennis Scully: And you were just feeling so relaxed for a little while.
Brad Ford: Exactly. And so there was so much interest then from other vendors that wanted to participate, so the second year we tried to have it in that same town, and we just kind of took over parking lots and other areas of town to have more vendors. We had more people come that second year, and we realized that there was no way we'd be able to have it in that town again, just because of the infrastructure.
Dennis Scully: It was too much for the town to bear.
Brad Ford: It was too much. And so then in the third year, we moved it to Stone Ridge, there was a new boutique hotel opening called Hasbrouck House, which, a great hotel. They had actually reached out to us, and so it worked out to have it there the third year. But again, at that time, there was even more people that wanted to attend and we knew that the town wasn't going to let us have it there for the fourth time, because again, it was crazy. It's just a traffic jam.
Dennis Scully: And you were wearing out your welcome pretty quick.
Brad Ford: Yeah. Which I did not want to do, because I love this area. And so then we moved it to Kingston last year, Hutton Brickyards on the river and it was just a much, much better venue for us. It had parking, already had restrooms. When we had it at the other places, there was so much back of house things that we had to figure out, bring in porta-potties and parking attendants, it was just a mess. And this was a place where we really felt like grown up and able to-
Dennis Scully: All this infrastructure was already there.
Brad Ford: Exactly.
Dennis Scully: It's a big place.
Brad Ford: Yeah. And so last year, we had it and I think it was really our best year yet, knock on wood and had probably close to 6,000 people in two and a half days.
Dennis Scully: And who's coming to this fair? 6,000 people?
Brad Ford: I know. It's really surprising because I think a lot of people ... One thing that I realized even after that first year was, there was a lot of money upstate. There's a lot of people with weakened houses that were not afraid to spend money. It's funny, one of the things that first year that we had really encouraged everyone to have was readers on their iPhones to take credit cards. It was funny because people were complaining that the black cards didn't go through the readers as easily, and I thought, "That's kind of crazy, but cool, that's there's people using that,"
Dennis Scully: Exactly. That's the problem that we have, is that our clientele is too well to do.
Brad Ford: There's a lot of people with weakened homes, a lot of people from the city. We've been getting a lot of people from the West Coast coming, even some people from international. Vincent Van Duysen was there one year, Michelle Williams, the actress had come, a lot of designers, a lot of architects. One of the things that was really important to me though, Dennis, was I wanted to make sure that it felt elevated, but by no means exclusive. And so I worked, I think we all worked really hard to make sure that there was something there for everyone, even if it was really expensive dining table in one booth, but there might be the best artisanal jam in the next or a great wooden spoon, because I really wanted to celebrate the area and make sure that it felt very inclusive also.
Brad Ford: It's a real cross section of people, but I do think a lot of people from the design industry have gotten excited about it.
Dennis Scully: Well, it has a huge following. I am getting to go for the first time. On the eve of your fifth anniversary, I am finally coming. I have an AirBnB in Apaches already booked. My wife and I are really making a weekend of it, and I'm really thrilled about it, because for years, I had to live through everyone else's Instagram of Columbus Day weekend up at Field and Supply. All of my nearest and dearest are at the show, and so this year, I'm really excited about it. And actually, I plan to come and shop, so that was part of what I wanted to understand. It sounds like you can really buy furniture and accessories and things.
Brad Ford: Absolutely. There's a lot there to offer. I think one of the things that's also really cool about that weekend is in addition to being able to buy some really interesting things, we have live music, we have really good food, lots of booze, there's fire pits, everyone brings their dogs. It's just a really fun weekend also, and it just so happens that there's really cool things to buy.
Dennis Scully: There's really cool things to buy, and it's a really cool craft fair. As you were saying, your taste and your image of craft evolved quite a bit over the years as you worked with the various designers that we talked about, and now you're able to bring the kind of suppliers that are in your showroom at 200 Lacks, right?
Brad Ford: Right. And what was fascinating was I knew that a lot of these people would ... they were showing it in all sorts of different fairs in the past, and I just thought we somehow need to get all of these people that are doing really great work in one place. It's developed over the years to be, I think, much more of a lifestyle fair because in addition to furniture and lighting and accessories, there's a lot of fashion, there's jewelry, there're pet products. One of the things that's really cool this year is there's a company called Kid Made Modern that Todd Oldham did.
Brad Ford: And so they're going to have a special area for kids and selling a lot of their goods that are all really cool crafting tools and techniques to get people started at an early age to learn about the value in craftsmanship. And so we're excited to have them there this year. The other thing that we're super excited about is DECASO is coming this year.
Dennis Scully: Tell me about that.
Brad Ford: Well, we had just gotten a lot of feedback because occasionally, we would have vintage dealers one or two sprinkled in throughout. And we had just gotten a lot of feedback that people would love to see more of that. And I think especially the mid century design, there was a lot of focus on craftsmanship at that time and some beautiful work that exists, and so we thought it would be nice to be able to bring some of that to show how it works with contemporary craftsmanship, and also just the fact that this is something that will never go out of style, beautiful artisanal pieces.
Brad Ford: And so, DECASO was super excited to be involved. They're going to have their own tent with several dealers that are on DECASO from Larry Weinberg, CONVERSO. There's a company called Sputnik Modern out of Dallas, is one of my favorite dealers, Rayon Roskar who is really committed to 20th century Swiss design. There's a company called Hunt Modern, who's coming from Santa Fe. So it's going to be a real cross section of dealers that are all, I think going to showcase a more mid century point of view as far as craftsmanship is concerned, and we're super excited to have them this year.
Dennis Scully: That's fantastic. They'll be able to represent some of the things that they make available online through DECASO?
Brad Ford: Right.
Dennis Scully: That's great.
Brad Ford: And again, I think it's just going to be another layer this year to the experience and offer people that have the income for these weekend houses to just have more offerings available.
Dennis Scully: And I know that you've been trying to think of ways for the show to live on beyond the Columbus Day weekend. What are some of the things that you're thinking about?
Brad Ford: I think this next year, one of the things that we're trying to focus on is whether or not we start to think about multiple markets and bring this to the West Coast. We keep getting a lot of inquiries about the West Coast, and there's so many talented makers out there. I'd love to maybe do something in the South because I think that's such a great area, very familiar to me, coming from the South. And then also beyond doing the event itself, maybe having some weekends scattered throughout the year, whether it's some kind of summit that's like a more immersive workshop experience, where it's a smaller group of people that can do a much more deep dive into craftsmanship and with demonstrations, panel discussions, dinners.
Brad Ford: I just think that there's such a huge interest in this now, and I've been getting a lot of feedback from people who would love to actually learn how to do ceramics or make furniture or be interested in jewelry, flower arrangements. And so that's something that we're thinking about. Again, that would be much smaller groups of people. And then another thing we've been talking about is field trips. There are so many cool things in and around the area from upstate in Garrison. There's Russel Wright's Manitoga House, which is so beautiful, and you've got Dia Beacon, and Cold Spring. There is Magazzino, which is a new museum that's focused on post war and contemporary Italian art that is stunning, Dennis.
Dennis Scully: I haven't been there. Interesting.
Brad Ford: You would absolutely love it. It's just a phenomenal building. Then in Pennsylvania, you've got Nakashima's Workshop, you've got the Barnes Foundation. [Juan Elsrik's 00:40:18] house. So being able to take a small group of people to some of these places and just make a day out of it, a weekend out of it-
Dennis Scully: Can you work a distillery tour into that? Because there is some great distilleries out there as well. I just find that such a nice way to round out a day.
Brad Ford: Absolutely. And really some great restaurants in all these places too.
Dennis Scully: There's some surprisingly good restaurants.
Brad Ford: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that we would want the weekends or the field trips to be very much a similar experience to the fair itself, but to just be much more intimate and extended so that it's something that people can get excited about throughout the year.
Dennis Scully: Which is really fantastic. Field and Supply could really live on and people could be participating in the experience even beyond the show that they get to come to once a year.
Brad Ford: Absolutely.
Dennis Scully: Last year you had 6,000 people, so heaven knows how many people-
Brad Ford: I always like to be realistic about it, I don't ever want it to be out of control. I think that if we could continue the pace that we've been growing each year at the same rate, I'd be very happy, because I think that we've learned over the years what's working, what's not working, how to scale it at the right pace. And the other thing is, I'm such a big believer in slow and steady wins the race. I'm sure you know that saying about, "A slow growing tree has deeper roots."
Dennis Scully: I do.
Brad Ford: That's the way I've always approached business, is because I just think it's better to just grow steady and slowly.
Dennis Scully: And as you were saying earlier, to have it continue to happen organically and driven through people's interest in wanting to participate in the show and the right people wanting to participate, and all of that.
Brad Ford: I think the hardest part of this is telling people no, because I hope that you'll see when you come, is a very, very considered event with everyone that participates. We have a very, I think a high bar that we expect people to meet as far as what they bring to the table, and so we have to tell a lot of people no, and that's the hardest part.
Dennis Scully: Tell me a little bit about that process. Are people submitting things that they would like to-
Brad Ford: We get so many requests, so many requests. And in the past, it's been more about just availability and not having the right amount of space. As we've grown, we've been able to have more people, but we're also getting a lot more applications from people. And so we look at everyone very carefully. Some I think you can tell right away that it's just not the right fit, but there's a consistency that we like to maintain, a certain level of quality and artistry that I think is important.
Brad Ford: And I think that's one of the problems that I've had with other fairs, is that at a certain point, it looks like they'll just let anyone in to fill a spot, and I don't necessarily want that to ever be the situation here. I want to really keep it curated, for lack of a better word, at a certain level.
Dennis Scully: And that's all you, that's all you making that ultimate decision?
Brad Ford: It's me. I think I probably am the ultimate decision maker, but I have a team that will definitely look at everything, talk about it and then decide who needs to be there and who doesn't. And we also really try to make sure we've got the right mix of people, not too many ceramicists or not too many people selling jewelry. And so it's important to keep it balanced as well.
Dennis Scully: Well, and to your earlier point, is price point, is that also part of the consideration? Do you try and maintain a nice mix so that everything is not super high end? Because I know it sort of go that way pretty quickly though or is it just the jam for people that if you can't afford everything else?
Brad Ford: No. There's wooden spoons, there's some jewelry. There's definitely takeaway.
Dennis Scully: Jam, craft beer.
Brad Ford: Craft beer, especially like with the pets, there are some really great leashes.
Dennis Scully: And it has really become a very family friendly fair as well.
Brad Ford: Absolutely. Early on it was clear that this was a place that people wanted to bring their family, bring their dogs and just hang out. I think that was the thing that really surprised me the most was how long people stay.
Dennis Scully: And so you can buy a weekend pass? You can come for the weekend.
Brad Ford: Yeah. And this year what's cool is we've actually partnered with a glamping company.
Dennis Scully: I saw that.
Brad Ford: There is a section of the venue where you can rent a tent, and it's a really beautiful location because it's right on the Hudson River and some of those tents are just right on the edge of the river and you wake up, coffee looking out at the river. I think it's a cool spot.
Dennis Scully: Do you think I made a mistake not booking the glamping and booking the Airbnb instead?
Brad Ford: I don't know, Dennis. Listen, you can look at it this year and see what you think. You know what I mean? But I'm glad you got an Airbnb because it gets tough to find a place.
Dennis Scully: So while I was on Airbnb, they kept telling me 97 other people are looking at this site and I knew it was all people coming to Field and Supply, and I waited, a one weekend to make a decision and I lost out on two or three places already.
Brad Ford: Yeah, you got to be quick, hotels are definitely tough at this point. They're building a lot of new hotels.
Dennis Scully: There were none of the places in Hudson or any of those places, they were already booked, thanks to you.
Brad Ford: Well, I don't know. I'd like to think we might've had a little bit to do with it, but they are building a number of new boutique hotels in and around the area, which I think is really cool and exciting. As a matter of fact, there's one in Kingston that's being done and the restaurant is going to be done by Taavo Somer who did Freeman's here in the city, so that's going to be opening up in the next month or two. And I'm excited about that because I think he's got such a great eye and real ... I think he's just a great guy and I think it's going to be a cool restaurant.
Dennis Scully: That's fantastic. Well, and it is very exciting. Obviously, a lot of your vendors are coming to stay and they must have booked well ahead of time and a lot of the people who want to come to the fair. So we should tell people, for people that want to come, there's tickets still available.
Brad Ford: You can buy tickets ahead of time, if you buy them now, they're $10, they're $15 at the door, which I think is a very fair price and it's October 5th, 6th and 7th. October 5th, it opens at two o'clock So it's half day and that's a really great time to come. I was actually really surprised the first year we did that, how many people came the first day, but I think a lot of people want to get there quick and see what they can get before people start to sell things or sell out. We had one great vendor last year who was new and her work was just so beautiful.
Brad Ford: She sold out probably 80% of her stuff by Saturday morning, and she was pleasantly surprised, but she just thought, "What am I going to do the rest of the weekend?" So she actually started just taking orders off of the remaining stock, and it was cool because she said this had started off as like a hobby.
Dennis Scully: What sort of work was she doing?
Brad Ford: She did a lot of wooden spoon. She had this cool wood turnings and she said, "This has actually opened up an opportunity for me to where I may actually be able to do this full time." I loved hearing that. And so that's the thing, I really want to make sure this is a great opportunity for everyone to participate.
Dennis Scully: For everyone and their mom.
Brad Ford: One of the things that we realized was that a lot of these people did not have a permanent place to show their work and that's how fair ended up opening. And so that's why the showroom, we've got a lot of the vendors, they are-
Dennis Scully: So that's a little bit of an extension then of Field and Supply, is the Fair showroom with New York design center.
Brad Ford: Right. But mainly focused on furnishings and lighting and accessories. And again, pretty elevated as far as the work-
Dennis Scully: It is beautiful, not to embarrass you, but it's a really beautiful space.
Brad Ford: I appreciate it. And we are fortunate now that we also have been able to bring on some Danish manufacturers that work so beautifully with these artisans-
Dennis Scully: Whom I met and spent time with and they're lovely.
Brad Ford: Overgaard + Dyrman, we're just here, and those guys are just the sweetest people and do the most beautiful work.
Dennis Scully: Oh, could not be nicer.
Brad Ford: I think Danish design has always been so focused on quality craftsmanship and it was always important for me to be able to bring some of those folks into the mix at the showroom, not just to make it available, but also for these new artisans to realize, "Look, your work holds up to Hahn's Wagner's pieces that have been around for years and you all should be proud knowing that you can be in the same venue and the same client that's buying those pieces that are sort of iconic pieces are interested in your work as well." And so I just think it's nice to have that mix and that range of work in the showroom.
Dennis Scully: Absolutely. And as I was saying earlier, it all works together so seamlessly, and so you do have those classic Wagner pieces, and I was thinking about the wall system that you have there. Years ago I used to have a Scandinavian furniture store and he used to sell the Kato system, and it really brought back the memory of all of that.
Brad Ford: That particular system is by Atlas Studios, which is in Newburgh, upstate New York and they just do incredible work. It's just stunning.
Dennis Scully: It's exquisite. You really want to walk right up to it and just see every little detail.
Brad Ford: We've done really well with their work. It's funny, they, for years had no presence in the city. They had one little piece available at a showroom in Brooklyn, and I would try to show my clients and it was always a bit of a hassle to try to go and show them. And so that was one of the first people I contacted when we opened the showroom and I said, "Please can we have that here?" Because I just knew how beautiful it was and it's done very well.
Dennis Scully: I'm not surprised, it's very special. And expanding that showroom perhaps? I heard a little bit of a rumor.
Brad Ford: We're moving up to the 16th floor and we're super excited because we're actually joining forces with Merida Rugs and they have a very similar ethos, I think that I have as far as craftsmanship. Most of their work is done outside of Boston, all done by hand. They do absolutely beautiful work. And so we're trying to integrate the two concepts so that it won't necessarily be Merida's is on this side, Fair is on this side. I think it will be very clear as far as where Merida is and what they're representing and who you need to speak to when you're there.
Brad Ford: But I just think that it was an opportunity to be doing something different in our industry and presenting pieces in a contextual way that's integrated and more interesting than if you were just to go into a rug showroom and see rugs, go to furniture store and just see furniture. And so we're super excited and we hope to be open sometime in November. It's the top floor at the New York Design Center. And so yeah, we're really excited. And it just gives us an opportunity to expand and have more furniture there for people to see.
Dennis Scully: Well, Mr. [Drockman 00:52:56] was very excited about it when I saw him the other night at What's New, What's Next, and he's a huge fan of yours.
Brad Ford: Well, I'll tell you, none of this at the showroom would be possible without Jim, because he was such a cheerleader after that first year of Field and Supply, and he's actually the one that approached me and said, "Listen, I think you need to be doing this on a permanent basis, so let's talk." And at the time, I just thought, "Oh God, I can't take on this." But he persevered and just kept at me.
Dennis Scully: As he does, he's dog in that way.
Brad Ford: And I'm so happy that he did, because this has been such a cool ride with the showroom.
Dennis Scully: Well, he sees a good idea and then he's incredibly supportive and also insistent, and so he pushes you along, but then you're always glad that he did. And he's thrilled that you're moving upstairs, and he's very excited about it and he's proud of everything that you've been able to do. You've combined your office for the interior design firm is inside the showroom as well there, right?
Brad Ford: Exactly.
Dennis Scully: And that will also be the case up on 16th?
Brad Ford: Right.
Dennis Scully: And that works well for you and you like that dynamic?
Brad Ford: Yeah. It's funny because I'm basically running three businesses now, but they all sort of work together. We can source from the showroom for projects. A lot of the vendors at the fair upstate we represent, so we've got a system down. It doesn't seem nearly as overwhelming as it may sound. I think all the dots are connected and so I think what's nice though is that because of the showroom and the fair upstate, I'm able to be a little bit more selective about the work that I take on for design projects, which is nice because at this stage in my career, I want to be working on things that I really want to work on and be inspired by the architecture or the client.
Brad Ford: I was just telling someone the other day that it's funny, if someone calls about a potential project, the very first question I ask is, "Were they nice?" And if the answer is yes, then I'd say, "Okay, what was the budget?" Because honestly, if they're not nice on the phone, I'm not interested in them.
Dennis Scully: And you can really tell right away too, cont you?
Brad Ford: You can tell right away. And unfortunately, I think because of being able to do these other things now, I can be a little bit more selective.
Dennis Scully: Well, and so your notion of diversifying your business has happened for you, right?
Brad Ford: Absolutely.
Dennis Scully: And it's given you some greater control and you're able to scale back if you want to on projects, right?
Brad Ford: Yup. It gives me an opportunity to be much more flexible than I have been in the past, which is cool. It's exciting. It's an exciting time,
Dennis Scully: It seems like an exciting time and it seems like Field and Supply has a lot of potential legs going forward and everyone's very excited. You talk about clients being nice, I think one of the things that has always helped you in this industry is you are one of the genuinely, really nice people in this industry, and so I think people love to work with you and support you. And then you also happened to conveniently be really talented as well, and so it makes it easy.
Brad Ford: Thank you, I appreciate that.
Dennis Scully: I love that you're supporting all of these crafts people and different vendors who might not get to show their work in other ways.
Brad Ford: Yeah. I love it and I think that it's so cool to see these people have a place to show their work. Again, it's just an exciting time.
Dennis Scully: Well, we really look forward to it. Columbus Day weekend, I know where I will be, up at Field and Supply. Is there a website for Field and Supply that we could tell people?
Brad Ford: It's fieldandsupply.com.
Dennis Scully: Conveniently, fieldandsupply.com.
Brad Ford: And then the showroom is fair-design.com,
Dennis Scully: fair-design.com, is the showroom, soon to be moving up to the 16th floor at New York Design Center.
Brad Ford: Yup.
Dennis Scully: Okay. Fantastic. Well, Brad, thank you so much for your time.
Brad Ford: Thank you, Dennis and I can't wait to see you in a few weeks.
Dennis Scully: I'm really looking forward to it.
Dennis Scully: My guest has been Brad Ford, interior designer and the founder of Field and Supply.
Dennis Scully: Thank you again for joining us, the show is Business of Home and I'm Dennis Scully. If you like what you hear, please feel free to subscribe, tell a friend about the show and most of all, leave us a review on iTunes. Thank you again to our sponsor and our producers. You can find us at businessofhome.com. We're on Facebook or Instagram. We'll see you next week.