April 6, 2022
For Multidisciplinary Designer Bradley Bowers, Design is Boundless
Whether imagining a strategy, textile, chair, adornment, or interior, he applies the same no-holds-barred approach, finding bespoke solutions without being held back by disciplinary hierarchies. “I draw inspiration from everything, including philosophy, anthropology, science fiction, and cooking,” he adds. “I honestly look at anything as a new type of lens.”
This agility has allowed him to stay afloat and remain independent in an industry that hasn’t always been forthcoming with stable jobs or opportunities. He doesn’t focus on specific mediums but is instead driven by concepts, client briefs, and personal fascinations. Bowers tries to learn just enough from the craftspeople he encounters to fashion his own interpretations. In doing so, he avoids the pitfalls of cultural appropriation. Zapotec is a series of carpets that the designer conceived using age-old Oaxacan weaving techniques. Rather than reconstitute the traditional motifs, he created parametric patterns that reflect a similar yet entirely new type of composition.
Combining the latest virtual and digital innovations with re-tooled craft traditions, Bowers continuously develops fresh concepts while also riffing on function. Created for Emma Scully Gallery’s inaugural Cast Iron exhibition last fall, Cala is a planter cast in iron using 3D-printed molds. And Moire is a collection of optical illusion wallcoverings the designer conceived using digitally generated algorithms. He aimed to evoke different interior moods by calibrating various motifs and harnessing the power of color.
Halo is a series of crumpled cotton paper lanterns that garnered Bowers a best in show accolade at Design Miami/ 2021. Presented by gallery The Future Perfect, the various iterations harken back to the designer’s early material experimentations but are ultimately studies of light and shadow.
“Craft isn’t dead but what craftspeople traditionally produce isn’t in demand anymore,” Bowers concludes. “Long-held traditions honed over the centuries are being erased. If we can learn their languages, we can also think of a new way to express them. Technology is one avenue. It isn’t just CNC milling, laser cutting, or 3D printing but also Whatsapp, a tool that can provide resources to isolated communities that would otherwise sit in solitude and fade away.” The designer has formalized this socially- and culturally-responsible methodology in a manner unlike any of his contemporaries.
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