As the NeoCon 2014 keynote speaker, Todd Bracher explained reduction as being central to his design philosophy. “How can we take away everything except for what we need? Singularity is the way we communicate truth.”
Drawing on examples from martial arts, chess and soccer, Bracher explained how irreducible complexity reveals truthful solutions – an absolute result informed by the context.
His beautifully simple creations reflect his philosophy and design process. A lamp inspired by the phases of the moon. A vase inspired by the sensuality and beauty of the neck. A chandelier that takes cues from a butterfly, just gravity creating the shape.
Strandelier / Swarovski Chandalier
Dome Table Lamp
Shaw Contract a Group collaborated with Bracher in 2011 to design a carpet tile that answers the question: What does music look like? Hear Bracher explain The Music Project during his keynote presentation.
Todd Bracher Keynote Speech at NeoCon 2014 from Shaw Contract Group on Vimeo.
With equal parts humility and humor, Bracher shared further examples
of his work:
On the Tod table, designed to live next to other furniture and complement it like a beauty mark does on the face, Bracher said, “Cindy Crawford, she is ok, but it’s her beauty mark makes her special.”
The Fulfillment Clock, a timepiece to be worn around the neck resting over the heart, features a transparent face which allows users to read the clock from either side. “You can watch time – winding down or winding up, depending on if you glass is half empty or half full.”
A cork jacket made for the Wallpaper Handmade Collaboration offered Bracher the opportunity to work with a fascinating new material that he described as unlike wood or fabric and with a life of its own. “The goal was to create upholstery for the body. And is incredibly hot to wear.”
When asked to design a Munny, a child’s vinyl robot for a New York Based event, Bracher tied it to the back of a bicycle and rode with it dragging along the ground across Manhattan. “Let NYC make the design.”
Two of Bracher’s designs (shown above) won 2014 Best of NeoCon awards which were announced at the same time as his keynote presentations: Gold for his work with 3M on VESSEL by 3M + Todd Bracher and Gold for his collaboration with HBF on The Triscape Collection.
Best of NeoCon Gold for VESSEL by 3M + Todd Bracher
Best of NeoCon Gold for The Triscape Collection by Todd Bracher + HBF
But instead of ending with a nod to his newly acquired accolades, Bracher ended his presentation with a final thought the importance of reduction, sharing a story about Katsushika Hokusai, who spent a lifetime drawing images of Mount Fuji. In an interview, Hokusai explained that at 40 years old, it took him 36 lines to draw Mount Fuji, at 50 years old he drew it in 10 lines and by 60 years old, just 8 lines. When asked if he goal was to live to 100 and draw it in one line he responded, “no, it is to live to 120 and say it all in a single point.”