Regina Connell

Regina Connell

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The Furniture Designer/Maker: Branden Adams

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  • Branden Adams, portrait. Image by Freda Banks
    Branden Adams, portrait. Image by Freda Banks
  • Candlesticks. Machined brass, stainless steel, steel and turned walnut candlesticks. Image by Steven Poe.
    Candlesticks. Machined brass, stainless steel, steel and turned walnut candlesticks. Image by Steven Poe.
  • Char Sculpture. Charred oak over steel. Image by Steven Poe.
    Char Sculpture. Charred oak over steel. Image by Steven Poe.
  • PALLETStool. Image by Steven Poe.
    PALLETStool. Image by Steven Poe.
  • Snick Coffee Table. Image by Steven Poe.
    Snick Coffee Table. Image by Steven Poe.
  • Snick Coffee Table Detail. Image by Branden Adams
    Snick Coffee Table Detail. Image by Branden Adams
  • Split level table, acacia. Image by Steven Poe.
    Split level table, acacia. Image by Steven Poe.
  • Split level table, acacia. Image by Steven Poe.
    Split level table, acacia. Image by Steven Poe.

Furniture designer and maker Branden Adams is one of those best kept secrets. And that’s a little bit crazy for a designer/artisan who’s creating for where design needs to go.

Oakland, California-based Adams is a versatile designer/artisan – working primarily in metal and wood – whose work graces a wide range of spaces: from living rooms and boardrooms to synagogues to gardens. What makes him so interesting is his refined, sophisticated aesthetic combined with immaculate craftsmanship. In the last few years, interior design has zigged from boringly, coldly minimal to overly-earnest, self-indulgent maker-ishness. For a while now, we’ve all been wondering where design goes next, when we’re sick of live edged tables, exposed bulbs, and artfully created “exposed” brick walls.

Branden’s design feels like the new level, and the new definition of luxury.

Branden is half of a husband and wife duo called BaDesign. Together with his wife Jennifer Ivanovich, that specializes in the creation of contemporary architectural furnishings for indoors and out.

His design eye and appreciation for making came early. The son of a builder father and a portrait photographer/antique collector mother, he studied landscape architecture at Penn State, then ended up with a degree in sculpture at Ithaca College. After college, he studied sculpture in Italy then received a master’s in landscape architecture from UC Berkeley’s School of Environmental Design. And it was there that he began to immerse himself in the metal and woodworking. And over the years, he’s done it well enough that his work was featured in the Museum of Craft and Design’s New West Coast Design (2) in 2013.

His time is spent working on a combination of commissions (particularly custom architectural work), new work, and products. His designs are rooted in the material but not visually ruled by it. Rather, they’re a lyrical combination of the two: which is what design is meant to be. Whether it’s his Snick table; his use of reclaimed wood in a series he calls PALLET (like no reclaimed wood you’ve seen before); the graceful, substantial candlesticks (heavy enough to do damage if necessary); or the shaker stools, there’s a sense of luxury, lushness, proportion, precision and completeness in each piece. It’s a visually and emotionally pleasing combination: grownup, satisfying, knowing.

Branden is above all, a perfectionist: hard on himself, harder on his own designs and artisanship. For him it is about the details: they’re what create the perfect balance and the emotional satisfaction that comes from it.

“There's a lot of stuff on the furniture market these days,” said Branden. “Unfortunately a lot of it gets by on material alone (that reclaimed, live edge, chunky steel look). It’s very trendy. Too much of what's on the market is missing the hard work, discerning eye, training and skill that a good designer brings to the table.

That’s what makes Branden the beacon of a new direction in design, where material shapes design and design pushes and brings out the best in material in the interest of perfect balance, perfect function, perfect fit into our lives.

But it’s not perfection for the sake of perfection or beauty for the sake of beauty. It’s his belief that what is perfect – what is beautiful – endures because it is not discarded. It has value, and value will always live on. “If I ever design a classic I will have achieved a massive personal goal.” I sense he’ll be getting there one of these days.