While looking back at the first 15 years of Design Milk, there are some designers who can’t help but stand out. Not only because of the creations and successes we have followed throughout their careers, but also because of the roles they have played in our own. One of those names belongs Brad Ascalon.
“If you were a young designer who appeared at the beginning of the sensation of a design blog in the early 2000s, you knew about all of them. And like me, you probably chased them all trying to see your work for the first time with global eyes. I guess I emailed Jaime to her death until she gave in and started sharing my work with all of DM’s followers, ”he teases.
Ascalon’s own beginnings and rise began in the music industry, which is strange. While working at a major publishing house in Manhattan in 2003, he says he had a quarterly crisis and realized he would have to make quite a compromise with himself to climb the ladder within the industry. “So I left without any other prospects. Just the feeling that I need more than creative hobbies, I needed a creative career “, shares Brad. He returned to school and earned a master’s degree in industrial design. After graduating, Brad immediately opened his own studio, comfortable in the fact that he would never again have a boss staring over his shoulder and blaming his mistakes on him again.
I didn’t know how to run the business, so he sank or swam. I learned to swim.
Just days after starting his design career, Brad was named by the project director at L’Oreal. Thanks to an exchange of earlier design concepts and a little luck, he spent the next time creating concept packaging for some of the company’s umbrella brands, including Maybelline, Redken and Shu Uemura. “That very happy phone call and the two years of work that followed gave me the opportunity to invest extra time in developing the first pieces of furniture I would try to offer on the market in the coming years.”
Brad truly believes that there is no lone project that has helped him foster a career, only that none of them would have been possible without the previous ones. However, there are two that are of special importance to him. The first was invited by Jerry Helling and Bernhardt Design to present their work at the ICFF Studio during the 2007 International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. “Jerry has such a skill and passion for discovering and nurturing talent. “When you enter that world with the stamp of Jerry Helling’s approval, it’s invaluable if you know how to navigate the industry,” he said. Jerry was also his first protector.
Not long after, Brad began working with Ligne Roset as just another American designer they teamed up with in the century. This opportunity gave him a much-needed role among European producers that would lead to further cooperation.
Brad is incredibly diverse today. Although we are busy designing residential and catering furniture as well as lighting, the new focus is on contract furniture within the office space. He explained, “In my opinion, it is the most exciting and challenging segment of the industry. It forces the designer to solve problems on a level far beyond the world of residential or hospitality design, with far stricter restrictions. “The studio is also completing the creation of an outdoor furniture brand in Mexico City to be launched in the US this fall. Outside the furniture industry, they are developing design and intellectual property partnerships that will hopefully bring value to people who don’t live and work in the world. Quarantine during Covid-19 gave Brad time to devote to this piece of the puzzle he thought he was missing.
But when all is said and done, “Although the project is several years old, which I am still proud of is my series of seats and tables in the Prelude for the cult Danish brand Carl Hansen & Son,” he said. “As their only American designer in the company’s 110-year history and responsible for designing their first contract furniture collection, the collaboration will always remain special to me. To date, this cooperation has been my greatest honor. “
Of course, we had to liven Brad up a bit about his business relationship with Design Milk. Parties, dinners and his friendship with founder Jaime Derringer are at the top of his list of memories. His favorite moment was the first time the two of them talked. “She was looking for a designer with whom she would team up in a small design haret for Intel in celebration of the new edition of the laptop. I received an email asking if he could call me. When the phone rang, I noticed it was the area code of my childhood. I asked, “Jaime, where are you calling from?” “New Jersey,” she said. “Where in New Jersey?” I asked. “Cherry Hill,” was her response. It turned out that Jaime and I grew up literally a mile apart in the same middle-class suburb, just outside of Philadelphia. But since we went to separate high schools, we had never known each other until that point. We have been super narrow ever since. “
“As designer milk grew, I started meeting more and more designers – but everyone intimidated me! I felt like an outsider. But meeting Brad was such an amazing moment – we had a connection to our hometown that was comforting at the moment. Around that time, I began to feel as if I – and Design Milk – had finally planted both feet in the designer community. I am so grateful for our friendship, ”says Jaime.
Brad and Jaime continued to work together on an exhibition at Bobby Berk Home in Soho in 2012, among other features and projects.
“Everyone at Design Milk I’ve ever interviewed and talked about through my work has such a passion not only for what we as designers create, but also for making sure we tell stories about our work in a way that best captivates their the audience. It has always been nice to read their own attitude about our words, our work, and our passions. Because of Design Milk, our projects reach such a wide audience, from the occasional design lover to the perfect professional. The reward for working with Design Milk is invaluable. ” Thank you, Brad. The feeling is definitely mutual!