ICFF 2012 : Design Milk Presents

ICFF 2012 : Design Milk Presents

By Sara Dierck
"Reinvention; Writing History in Aluminum" showcases a collaborative exhibition of New York's AM with Neal Feay Studio of Santa Barbara, Calif. during the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF).

Collaboration, narrative and the versatility of a singular material are highlighted with a new set of furniture, tableware and other objects created by New York-based AM (Brad Ascalon and Frederick McSwain) with Neal Feay Studio of Santa Barbara, Calif. Design Milk and Bobby Berk home are showcasing the collection with the exhibition "Reinvention; Writing History in Aluminum," which opened during the International Contemporary Furniture Fair.

Ascalon, McSwain and Alex Rasmussen of Neal Feay express the importance of the story behind each piece, as well as the advanced technical skill and holistic approach offered by the third generation aluminum manufacturer, best known for high end audio production and design. Each of these stories - be they whimsical or referential - is supported by form, texture, color and a diversity of objects (shoe horns sat on a pedestal adjacent to a fruit bowl, for example).

Neal Feay Company handles all steps in the manufacturing process: Each piece is milled from a solid block of aluminum and anodized in house. The production process from raw aluminum to finished product, as well as the back and forth process of communication between AM and Neal Feay Studio, add an additional story to each piece and provide a unique opportunity of exploration for both designer and manufacturer.

Bobby Berk home, location of Design Milk Presents: Reinvention; Writing History in Aluminum.

"Reinvention" is on view at Bobby Berk, 59 Crosby Street in New York City, through May 27th.

*all pieces are part of the "Reinvention" collection and designed by AM in collaboration with Neal Feay Studio, unless noted.

The majority of the pieces in the collection are informed by conversations between the designers and by their own personal narratives. The AM team's upbringing surrounded by nature forms the basis for the story behind "Timber."

Says Ascalon: "There used to be a lot of trees and everything is now clear cut, with strip malls and big box stores. But when the economy tanks and these stores go under, there's the phenomenon of the grass creeping back up in the parking lot."

Visually, the piece is meant to look like a stretched Glad bag, yet this tension is created not by casting or brute force but by chipping away at a solid piece of metal.

Aluminum "chips."

The experimentation and technical capabilities of Neal Feay’s factory inspired the designers. "When I got to the factory my brain was churning immediately," Ascalon says.

A nod to Neal Feay's claim of "Making Music from Metal," this side table - in green and grey - provides a playful visual surprise when one walks around it.

Post WWII, Neal Feay Company created personalized bracelets for retailers such as Neiman Marcus. On a visit to Neal Feay, Ascalon and McSwain found an example of this era of the company's history: A bracelet engraved with the name Bonnie.

Brad Ascalon holds their homage to both this discovery and to a part of the company's history: a set of 16 bracelets named "Bonnie."

"Bonnie" worn by Jaime Derringer, Founder and Executive Editor of Design Milk.

"Menorah” by Brad Aschalon, produced by Design Within Reach and reinterpreted by Neal Feay Studio.

"The only thing that doesn't have a story is the shoe horn," Ascalon says. "Frederick and I wanted to design a sexy shoe horn because there are no sexy shoe horns. As we thought about it we realized there is a story there, because sometimes we just want to stylize something. So we called it Achilles."

"Lumen" multi-colored vase, candle holder and ash tray.

The advanced milling process at Neal Feay creates opportunities for fine textural details. A limited edition piece designed by Frederick McSwain.

"Henge," a deconstructed fruit bowl.

"Uluwatu" hanging pendant.


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