House & Home: How did you end up getting into interior design professionally?
Brad Ford: I was always creative as a kid, but growing up in a small town, I wasn’t exposed to much design. There weren’t many options, so I decided to study business and economics at college. After graduating, I worked at a computer company and while I was working there, I built myself a little house and just loved the whole process. It made me think that maybe I could pursue a career in design. So, when I was about 23, I met with a local designer, George C. Anderson, and the first thing he said to me was, “move to New York.” I thought he was crazy, but I followed his advice and here I am 18 years later.
H&H: So, was that your big break?
BF: Moving to New York City from a small town [Russellville, Arkansas] was a really big step for me. I never imagined myself in such a big, urban environment. I was a sponge. I had never been exposed to so much culture, so many museums, and people, even retail stores. It was a big part of my education in design, and, yes, really was a big break for me. It is a love-hate relationship with the city. It is amazing, but taxing. Every day is a process. But at the end of each day, I always have a story to tell.
H&H: What was your first design job?
BF: I started working for Jed Johnson after graduating from FIT [Fashion Institute of Technology] for design. Then I worked for Thad Hayes. I had great exposure from both of those firms and really honed my skills there. While out on my own, my first real job was a house in Martha’s Vineyard. I bought myself a computer with the deposit.
H&H: And that’s how it all started.
BF: Yes, that was twelve years ago.
H&H: And, what are you working on these days?
BF: I have four projects on the go right now. I’m working on a fully restored old home in Montclair, New Jersey. The architecture is very traditional, but the couple that own it are young and really love modern design, so that is a lot of fun for me. I’m also working on a loft in New York’s West Village and one in Washington, DC. Oh, and an apartment unit in a converted police building in SoHo. Beautiful spot.
H&H: Do you find there is a design element that carries over into all the different homes you work on?
BF: Organic, earthy layers. I like a lot of texture like suede, natural materials.
H&H: When you aren’t busy working, what is your idea of a perfect night out?
BF: That’s easy. I’m a big foodie, so a night out at a really nice restaurant and I’m in heaven! I love spicy Mexican food. The ingredients are so humble, but together the flavours are so intense. Add a good margarita…perfect!
H&H: How do you spend your weekends in the city?
BF: My absolute favourite thing to do on a Friday night is to go to a movie. I love the whole experience of going to the movies. You can just sit there, unwind and relax. I often go to a double feature. Saturday mornings I always go to the flea market. And since I usually have so much going on during the week, it really is a guilty pleasure to just stay home on a Saturday night.
H&H: Besides New York, is there a city that you find captivating at the moment?
BF: I’m just on the heels of a trip to Venice, so it is having a big influence on me now. It is just incredible there, one of the most charming places on Earth. I loved all the fresco walls, so layered and textured. I would love to recreate one in a wall treatment mixed with some modern furniture.
H&H: What is the best gift you have ever received?
BF: My mother and brother gave me a taxidermy-mount impala. I spent some time in South Africa several years ago where they have so many impala. They are beautiful animals.
H&H: On a different note, what item of clothing could you not live without?
BF: My John Varvatos boots. I wear them with jeans, with a suit, everything.
H&H: I’d love to know how your friends would describe you.
BF: Oh, aren’t you tricky. Well, I think they would say that I am a warm person, easy to talk to, and very laid back, almost to a fault.
H&H: I would definitely agree with all of those statements, except I think being laid-back is a great asset. Thank you so much for your time today.
BF: My pleasure.
See Brad Ford's top furniture, architect, book and accessory picks in our Brad Ford Favourites gallery.