We interviewed Industrial Designer, Brad Ascalon for the launch of his Alouette Hooks for Umbra.
Brad Ascalon’s eponymous award-winning studio was founded in 2006. The multidisciplinary designer specializes in furniture for the contract, hospitality and residential markets, as well as lighting, packaging, and other consumer products. With a reductive approach to his craft, Ascalon believes in design that is uncomplicated, rational and manages to find the perfect balance of form, function and concept.
Born outside of Philadelphia, PA, Ascalon was immersed in the world of art and design from an early age. His grandfather was a noted sculptor and industrial designer, and his father is renowned for his large scale art installations that can be found in public and private spaces throughout North America. Ascalon attributes his passion for design to the two generations before him who instilled in him the value of craftsmanship, materiality and rigor.
Ascalon earned a Masters’ degree for Industrial Design from New York’s Pratt Institute in 2005, and that same year was recognized by Wallpaper magazine as one of the "Ten Most Wanted” emerging designers in the world.
Industrial Designer: Brad Ascalon
What was the inspiration behind your design? (ie. time, place, material, other item etc.)
My wife and I have a weekend home in eastern Long Island, a region with an amazing and expansive bird population. When compared to our everyday life in Manhattan, this aspect of the region is hard to ignore, and my fascination with these creatures has constantly grown. So I thought it was a great subject to explore. With that in mind, I wanted to create something that felt sculptural yet effortless, innocent and almost child-like. Alouette was the result of that exploration.
What problem (if any) were you trying to solve?
There are so many walls hooks on the market that only feel complete when there is something hanging on them. They tend to look more functional than anything. We wanted to make something beautiful on its own when displayed, but can also be practical when in use.
Were there any challenges along the way? (ie. material, manufacturing, costing, etc.)
I originally designed Alouette in a larger scale and in solid wood, but both my studio and Umbra understood the cost limitations for such an endeavor. So it was decided that we scale back the size and make it from a cast material to bring the price to an affordable point for the traditional Umbra consumer.
What is your favorite part of the product?
- I love the notion that some customers can purchase the hooks with no intention of using them for their functional purpose. These pieces can act simply as decorative pieces of art on a wall.
- I love that the set comes with three slightly varying sized birds. This gives the effect that they are each slightly distanced from one another from the viewer’s eye. It’s the idea that brings an element of realism to such an abstracted series of familiar forms.
- I love that this product can be used in any room – entryway, living room, a child’s bedroom, or even a bathroom. It’s quite universal.
Original Sketch of Alouette Hooks by Brad Ascalon for Umbra
What makes this product different/unique/better compared to everything else on the market?
In addition to my “favorite part” (see above), I really love the idea that you can cluster multiples of the product on a single wall for an amazing accent wall. Because of the price point of each set, you can do so at a relatively low cost when compared to hanging wallpaper, art or many other decorative objects.