Always look on the bright side of life! That’s definitely a sensible summary of the De-Evolution chair set by Brad Ascalon, whom we met at the Moscow Design Week. The chairs look whimsical, the colors are bright. What’s more: the original idea behind this series is actually about decay. De-Evolution represents the melt-down of the USA. Brad is very critical of American society. Mind you, he loves his country. You could say the bright colors of the textiles (supplied by Dedar) represent what he loves about the USA. They stay strong and bright thought the process of decay depicted in the image above. The colors counteract the message of a society slowing melting down, expressed by how the chairs become smaller and by the shape that’s like a candle disappearing before your very eyes. Normally, Brad doesn’t use much colors beyond blacks, whites and natural colors. You could say De-Evolution is a step away from his comfort zone.
Brad normally doesn’t use bright colors, having a strong preference for natural materials and minimalistic design. He actually tries to not be decorative. Brad is the third generation in a family of artists, following his father and grand father. He told us the story of one of his pieces where he made a glass mosaic. His father made mosaic murals and stained glass windows. Usually using colors of course, taking full advantage of the light with colors being used very decoratively. Brad however, chose to use white glass, which his father didn’t understand. If you’re tempted to think Brad rejects colors as a way to rebel from his father, there’s more to the story.
Brad also has a colour deficiency. Certain shades are difficult for Brad to distinguish. He often needs to see colors relative to another to get a proper grasp of the color. This has made him avoid color and feel insecure about using them. But lack of decorative color use also suits his design principles: concept, function and finally visual aesthetics. In that order. He prefers not to compromise but to come up with a solution, a design, that complies with all three principles. To do this, his design process is one of reduction, and colour is one of the easiest things to leave away from the equation.
But for the De-Evolution, colors are important, they couldn’t be left out of the equation. They express what’s good about the USA. And, if you look at the series from the other direction, you could see it as something that’s morphing into a chair. And evolutionary process of growth instead of decay. There’s often two sides to things. It’s a matter of which perspective you choose.