Monday, April 20, 2009

Tube, Birds, With One Stone (Plinth)

I'd known of BDDW for a while, but I was kind of impressed by their booth this year. They seem to have branched out a bit and their aesthetic is becoming more complete and very interesting. Their store is in SoHo, but evidently their pieces are all made in Philadelphia. They were one of number of interesting designers from Philly, and their rep was saying that there's a community of younger furniture designers there that kind of reminded me of Brooklyn.

I'm not going to talk much about the individual pieces, because they're really extremely minimal. Many of them approach an even exaggerated sort of Shaker austerity, in fact. Please don't mistake that for disinterest. I realize that putting together a lot of the work I discuss on here, one could get the impression that if I were to design an interior for you, it would look like some kind of abandoned, haunted toy factory in outer space.

Quite the contrary, I find those kind of pieces bold and fascinating, but they require a truly keen eye to use them to great success. It's the work of a group like BDDW that could be the real backbone of an interior. Furthermore, it's not so much in the individual pieces, but when you see them all together that their aesthetic blossoms into something really fantastic. Here are some of the ensemble shots:

Really stunning: sparse, uncomplicated, and unpretentious, with a warm, natural feeling to it at the same time. All the pieces work together so beautifully.

One of the things that really fascinated me this year was their clocks:

The clocks use what are called Nixie Tubes, developed in 1954. The name comes from "NIX I" which stood for "Numeric Indicator eXperiment No. 1." It's a small spherical glass tube of mostly neon with ten individual cathodes for the numerals 0 to 9 stacked one on top of the next. So as you watch the numbers change, you can actually see them receding deeper into the tube. 
So extremely cool.

Along the same lines, but brand new, evidently, they're also making these unbelievably awesome turntables:

They're really right on the mark with that stone plinth. The heavier and more solid the plinth, the cleaner and smoother the sound will be, because you get none of the vibrations from the motor or any other feedback. I will say, though, having DJed for many years, that we far prefer direct-drive to belt-drive. Belt-drive isn't strong enough, it takes way too long to get up to speed, and rubber belts have a nasty habit of becoming brittle over time and snapping. Hopefully, they'll keep exploring this, though, because the thought of some beautifully crafted wheels, gears, and screws meandering across the top of one of these would be really magical.

This was the one they had at the show, which may very well be direct-drive. I didn't ask, and there are no specs available yet, as far as I know:
They had it playing a record of different birdsongs, which was so interesting. It's extraordinary and it really love it.

©2009, Ryan Witte


John Cahin said...

I love their stuff. I used to play poker with Tyler in there shop on the humongous slab table.

Ryan Witte said...


Very cool. While they're doing some things that other people have done better, I can see them coming into their own, so to speak. If they can tap into what that unique vision is, they could come away with some truly remarkable work.

I've got my eyes on them now.