Brandon was kind enough to take time away from the flames and burning steel to answer a few questions for me about his work and his passion.
My creative roots started in a 2-D world, drawing, sketching, and designing things I wanted to make. I made the switch to physical form in my early 30’s. All I remember about my first welding class was how magical it all seemed. It seemed hard at the time but that was the point, to expand as an artist and be challenged and learn the craft.
I have a soft spot for beautiful things, I love order, clean lines and great design compels me. I create with a minimalist perspective that has been shaped by years of distillation and the most useful lesson of my life was learning how to simplify. My execution however is always the opposite, thunderous, messy and highly charged. A cacophony of sounds and implements of creation being put to hard use, the howl of a grinder and sparks of steel start to fly. Talk about satisfying… It‘s that strange juxtaposition I find so interesting in what I do as an artist. (Swoon, wow. A designer after my own heart.)
On how the Modfire design came to be
I have this great fireplace from the 70’s, avocado green, Darth Vaderesque, I bought it off eBay, installed it in my living room and I love it. I kept wondering how come we just don’t see anything as interesting as this anymore? Something about this great fireplace really resonated with me. Just about that time, I started the frustrating search for an outdoor fireplace that would complement the back patio of our 50’s ranch home in Phoenix. The usual offerings were frankly, sad and uninspired. How could this be? Unless you ordered something from Denmark or Sweden you are out of luck for a cool, modern, outdoor fire feature in the USA.
We needed something in the backyard that I could love for a lifetime and well, suddenly this little silhouette became positively etched in my mind, it kept showing up in sketches around my house. A very tiny drawing, a ton of desire and need for something better became the launching point for my Modfire fireplaces. I believe in moments of divine inspiration, the best designs make your pulse quicken, speak to your soul and come into existence almost effortlessly. I admit taking something from a sketch to physical form requires some wrangling, there are always surprises but, in the end, crafting an object with the ability to contain such a primitive, chaotic element in a shape so sleek and modern, well, that speaks pretty deeply to the duality of my artistic nature.
I love my current location in downtown Phoenix; it’s a huge shop and really more of an artist collective with talented souls. I’ve had plenty of studios and studio mates over time, I’ve taught my share of interns, but in the end I tend to work alone. That’s why I cherish the space I’m in now, I spend my day around great creative people with a variety of interests and disciplines.
At the drawing table I’m a designer with great ideas and grand concepts that speak to me and fulfill my need to bring beauty onto this earth. But, when I’m in the shop, I’m a craftsman with metal in every pore of my being and the guy who regularly gets mistaken for homeless and offered change or a hot meal (true story).
Weld, grind, sweat, and repeat. I typically work 9-5 in the shop with the occasional burn into the wee hours if I need to hit a deadline. Music is key to great work. I have to say that every year welding in the heat is really tough to handle the first few weeks. You drink staggering amounts of water and shun the sun until you get back in the groove.
Inspiration from the design world and beyond
My passion is in functional objects, interior or exterior, sculptural yet useable. I think what really inspires me across the board is great design. Apple is genius; some of the artist designed airstream trailers I’ve seen are quite amazing. I love a blend of vintage and with a modern update.
Thoughts on Dee starting the rumor online that you are actually Superman
I always say that metalworking is either “in” you or it’s not. There are no “half-ways” in that craft. It’s dirty, smelly, loud and dangerous work. If you make it through one day and say “oh yeah” you have the physical chops to do it. Superman? No, but I wouldn’t mind being called “the man of steel”. (We can do that for you.)
I think you've earned the title Brandon. I'm already getting antsy for a styling project for an exterior where I can incorporate these beautiful pieces in the design. The Modfire belongs in the garden's of some of the world's top hotels. If it were up to me, The Parker in Palm Springs would decorate the grounds between the spa and the restaurant with these wonderful works of functional art.
So who besides me thinks one of the Modfire pieces should be on this year's giveaway list?
Visit Modfire's Etsy shop online to purchase and Modfire.com to learn even more about this stunning designer.