Brad Ascalon’s eponymous award-winning studio was founded in 2006, and he is widely regarded as one of the leading American design voices of his generation. With a reductive approach to his craft, Ascalon believes in design that is uncomplicated, rational and manages to find the perfect harmony of form, function and concept. His designs have been exhibited around the world, from New York to Milan, Stockholm to Guangzhou and London to Moscow.
How does the Scandinavian design tradition impact your work?
My approach to design is reductive in that I eliminate all that I can to reach a pure, unobstructive form. If there are details or features that don’t benefit the function of a design, or that are unnecessary with regard to the manufacturing of that design, I eliminate it. There is some poetic license of course, enough to make my work visually striking or unique, but not enough to complicate it. Scandinavian design has a rich, deep history of this, and it is why so many of my partnerships are with Scandinavian companies.
How can you, as a designer, use your work for positive change?
I’m a huge proponent of less, but better things. I take on projects and clients that focus on a similar belief, or at least reach a very high bar with regard to sustainable materials, processes, etc. I tend to turn down projects that are simply done for the money, the cheap commodities that can sell in tremendous volumes but at a great cost environmentally. This is the bare minimum of what designers and manufacturers should be doing given what we know about the environmental havoc around the world. I try to teach this approach to my students, graduate-level design and architecture students at the University of Pennsylvania who are about to enter the real world, as I do my employees and freelancers, and anyone else I can converse with or educate along the way. And I certainly employ this attitude to every project that I can in some way. Doppio is a perfect example. Not only is the table made with with a carbon neutral footprint, we’ve given it an extended life by way of a flippable top so that it can live on and not enter the waste stream.