Demanding excellence: Branden Adams

By Regina Connell.

Oakland-based furniture designer Branden Adams is one of those guys who should be much better known. Branden is half of a husband and wife duo called BaDesign. Together with his wife Jennifer Ivanovich, BaDesign specializes in the creation of contemporary architectural furnishings for indoors and out. (See here for a profile on Branden.)

Branden Adams

Branden Adams

His work is flawlessly modern, but incredibly warm. There’s purity of line and craftsmanship, but also a playfulness that loosens things up and injects a bit of wit without getting even remotely silly or self-conscious. It telegraphs its sophistication and grownup-ness without clobbering you over the head with it. Whether it’s his tables or his metal shaker stools or his candlesticks, the work is just so damned right.

Candlesticks. Machined brass, stainless steel, steel and turned walnut candlesticks. Image by Steven Poe.

Candlesticks. Machined brass, stainless steel, steel and turned walnut candlesticks. Image by Steven Poe.

It’s the kind of thing that’s earned him a spot in the Museum of Craft and Design’s prestigious New West Coast Design (2) in 2013.

And it’s the kind of thing that makes me realize how there is just so little of “just right” out there.

Split level table, acacia. Image by Steven Poe.

Split level table, acacia. Image by Steven Poe.

Now what’s that about? Is it the lack of really good artisans out there? There are obviously lots, though not an inexhaustible supply (and there shouldn’t be when we’re talking about high quality, the crème de la crème.)

I think it may also be, in wonky economics parlance, a demand side problem.

Let’s be clear: we’re not talking mass market here. We’re talking people with disposable income—probably lots of it. And while there’s never any accounting for taste, quality is a bit more of an objective standard, and it’s a standard that’s not being met as much as it should be.

Work in progress

Work in progress

Talking with various makers and others, it’s clear that there’s a lot of stuff floating around in peoples’ houses that just isn’t of great quality.

Sinai Chapel Ner Tamid Image by Rich Edwards

Sinai Chapel Ner Tamid Image by Rich Edwards

Why? There seem to be various segments of buyers out there. The most discerning are sticklers of quality: why have something in your house that isn’t great quality? We are fans of that approach.

Then, there are others who pick and choose where the quality needs to be, where they want to sweat the details—not unreasonable, particularly if you can’t always afford top quality.

Branden Adams Studio in Oakland

Branden Adams Studio in Oakland

There are others, too—and, in particular, they’re interior designers and decorators—who want the look and veneer (ha) of quality and artisanship but won’t invest the time to learn what that is or are loath to spend the money where others won’t see it. They see a few external artisanal flourishes (that ubiquitous live edge, that distressed anything), check the “artisan” box, and call it a day.

Shaker Stools, image by Steven Poe

Shaker Stools, image by Steven Poe

Branden is the kind of person the astute, choosy client should want to have designing and making for them. He’s a perfectionist: hard on himself, harder on his own designs and artisanship. For him, it is about the details: they’re what create the perfect balance and the emotional satisfaction that comes from it.

Studio

Studio

This whole quest for quality is in the hands of makers and designers, and the people who connect with, write about, talk about them. It’s time we all got pickier, choosier, and a whole lot more demanding.

Details

BA Design

Unless otherwise credited, images by Regina Connell.

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