Todd Bracher was recently described by Hilary Jay, director of DesignPhiladelphia, as “the finest global designer you’ve never heard of.”
Well, thanks to an invitation from DuPont CorianÃÂ®, we were able to have lunch with this talented mid-career designer whose “dream in design is to use it as a tool to understand what is going on in the world.”
Alodia for Capellini
When Bracher, who studied at Pratt, first started working in design he found he was creating everyday items such as remote control caddies, BBQ tools and spice racks – a far cry from the vision he may have had initially. “It was heart-breaking. You go into design school with passion – you walk out making product.” This reality check eventually led to making furniture, which took Bracher right back to product design, with a healthy appreciation for its nuts and bolts acquired along the way.
Stick, inspired by stick insects and the angler fish
Bracher’s route involved a few stops overseas. In Denmark, he developed deep respect for the poetry in craftsmanship and, indeed, is creative director for Georg Jensen today. From there he went to Milan and knocked on doors in the industry throughout northern Italy in order to thoroughly investigate traditional production practices that are timeless. Finally, when Tom Dixon’s studio came calling, Bracher went to London, where Dixon’s business acumen was to further influence the young American designer.
Boom for Serralunga. “Inspired by explosions, these tables are meant to take over a space.”
Today Todd Bracher is focussed on creating furniture and products for the way people live. “I don’t see myself as a designer,” he says, “but as an editor who designs context.” He surrounds himself with people who can give him more insight into how to communicate by way of design: mathematicians, anthropologists and psychologists. “My objects can’t be alienating,” he says. “All these things we make, they still have to be desirable.”
Tod for Zanotta. Inspired by Cindy Crawford’s beauty mark, this little table adds something to a space without being the most important item in the room.
To Bracher, objects need to be communicative, meaningful, ethical, useful and connected to our lives. “The most fundamental aspect of design is human experience,” he emphasizes. “Why else would we design?” Design is not about shapes and forms, but context. Bracher reminds us that function is not use, but “… how we use something, its context.”
Physical Illusion for Intramuros and CorianÃÂ®. “It’s a mysterious material, almost magical or confident in itself.”
Although materials obviously play an important role within any design (and certainly did in the Carte Blanche project for Intramuros and CorianÃÂ®), Bracher says, “I don’t choose the materials. The materials need to be there to provide the experience. If an item needs to be made of wood, then it is wood. Material for me is not an elective decision. It needs to be used in a particular application.”
Dome for Mater. Inspired by the phases of the moon, the light is reflected from inside this lamp.
Todd Bracher points out, “The human condition evolves, but is consistent.” As a designer in search of truth and authenticity, he asks, “Why do we search for truth? Who cares? But the fact is, we do.”