Otoko at DIFFA SF 2016

When approached with the opportunity to submit a design object for this year’s DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) fundraiser, we thought it would be the perfect occasion for creating a new set of Otoko candleholders. With the theme of “Shine” to inspire, we created a new version of the Otoko Hero finished in mirror polished chrome. And, “shine” they do!

shine and texture

Cast pewter discs provide a contrast of texture and color to the smoothly polished nickel.  Why pewter?  Branden spent a good bit of his childhood at antique flea markets perusing pewter candlestick collections.  Pewter was a common metal alloy used to make candlesticks in early America.  So, pewter brings a bit of nostalgia to this otherwise very modern candle holder.

pewter-ingotpewter ingot

   pewter-pot_horiz melting pewter for casting

discs cast from a wax moldtextured-wax-pewter_horiz

petwter-disc_patina finished patinated pewter disc

The finished Otoko Hero are part of DIFFA’s silent auction taking place on October 12th.   Place a bid for a chance to get the first set made.  Call or send us a message to order a set of our other Otoko series:  Hero-Matte, Hero–Dark Polish, Oso, Ono and Minor.

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Virtual Jewelry


…nothing to do with computer simulated life.  These candleholders we call Otoko are made by human hands and are intended to be touched, admired and coveted.  We consider them ornaments for your dining table, sideboard, or console…jewelry for your furniture.

This holiday season we’d like to share our obsession with elegantly simple forms, precision machined metal and candlelight.  Offered in sets of three in combinations of brass, stainless steel and nickel-plated steel, Otoko are refined yet decidedly masculine.  Their physical weight equals their visual presence.

It’s not too late to get yours before 2015 comes to a close.  But you’ll have to hurry!  Call or email us for pricing.

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The New Luxury : Made Local

white shaker stools

What is the New Luxury? It’s not about brands anymore. It’s about exceptional craft that engages the senses. It’s personal. As editor Regina Connell says, it’s “a shift in the way people look at luxury, toward a more meaningful pleasure, and away from traditional symbols of status.”

At BaDesign we have always been driven by designing and creating simple objects and spaces with uniquely rendered materials. Our designs encourage the user to sit quietly and take pleasure in the subtleties.

It turns out we’ve been designing for the New Luxury market all along.

“Whether it’s his tables or his metal shaker stools or his candlesticks, the work is just so damned right. Branden is the kind of person the astute, choosy client should want to have designing and making for them. He’s a perfectionist: hard on himself, harder on his own designs and artisanship. For him, it is about the details: they’re what create the perfect balance and the emotional satisfaction that comes from it.” (Regina Connell, Handful of Salt)

Read more about it here: Decade 15 Magazine, Handful of Salt and Oakland Magazine.

To see a sample of what the New Luxury looks like, join us and 25 other local product designers, artisans, fabricators, and manufacturers this Thursday at Made Local 2014, hosted by the International Interior Design Association.

Made Local
Thursday November 13th, 5:30pm
SPUR, 654 Mission Street, San Francisco

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Vote for BaDesign on Gardenista!

The garden we designed in Palo Alto is one of 5 final contenders for Best Edible Garden on Gardenista.  You can vote once a day until July 15th!

Steel espalier

Steel living fence with Pixie mandarin

Vote for BaDesign!

Vote for BaDesign for Best Edible Garden

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Hill Ties: A Life BaDesign

I am honored to have BaDesign featured in the winter/spring issue of Hill Ties, a publication put out by my alma mater.  The Hill School is a private school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania that:

Prepares young men and women from across the country and around the world for college, careers, and life.

The “work” of The Hill School is completed through the body of learning processes and experiences through which the young men and women of The Hill grow into well-educated young adults. This growth is accomplished by the experience and knowledge gained through the liberal arts and sciences: thinking critically, writing effectively, speaking forcefully, and solving problems analytically.

Within a family school environment and a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, we challenge our young people to work hard; think and reason; be fulfilled; serve the common good; and be prepared to lead as citizens of the world, uniquely guided by our motto, “Whatsoever Things Are True.”

My years at Hill were quite influential.  The article (see link below) speaks to that fact.  With one school age daughter of our own, and a second only six months away from kindergarten, Jennifer and I find ourselves reflecting on our own educational experiences and planning for the future of theirs.  We recently attended a Hill School alumni event in San Francisco at which the new Headmaster spoke about the increasing financial challenges faced in the private secondary school system.  One of his goals as Headmaster is to make the admission process at Hill “need blind”.  This means that an applicant’s financial means would only be revealed after acceptance decisions were made.  The school would then find a way to meet the financial needs of every student admitted.  That same evening, the Headmaster admitted that he had no choice but to break his pledge not to raise tuition for the 2013-2014 school year.  Regardless of whether Hill becomes need blind or not, the private school system is, and will remain, out of reach for the majority of our population.  However, limitations can sometimes lead to creative solutions.

Currently, Jennifer and I are face to face with the urban public school system in Oakland.  Yes budgets are meager and teachers are overworked and sometimes under-trained.  The methods used for preparing students for standardized testing are often charged with supressing creativity and critical thinking.  In the midst of these hurdles we are seeing motivated parents donating their time, experience, and energy to work creatively within and also push the boundaries of the politically flawed and financially strained system.  This year we were lucky enough to join a community of people at Urban Montessori, an Alameda County public charter school.  The founders of Urban Montessori were driven to bring self-directed learning to a diverse group of children.  Montessori teaching principles are combined with “design thinking” methods.  As defined by Urban Montessori, design thinking is: using a systematic process to understand people and situations, define problems, and come up with innovative solutions.  The school is not exempt from standardized testing, but the method by which children are prepared to pass these tests is intended to not interfere with the development of innovative methods of learning.  As challenges in the public education system grow, so too must exceptions to the rules.  Able parents will need to engage and support in whatever way they can the function of their child’s education, whether inside or outside of school.  In my opinion a hands-on, self-guided yet systematic, design thinking approach to education would be invaluable for all children to navigate the rapidly changing environment that lies ahead.

To read some brief thoughts on my own creative influences, business and family click here: BaDesign Hill Ties

–Branden Adams

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Dogtown Gets a New Look

Refectory layout
Laying out the wood for the Refectory Table

Our Dogtown neighborhood of West Oakland is changing its look with the addition of pop-up arts venues like Peralta Junction (only open for two more weekends–go check it out!) and Kinetic Steam Works Roll Out (happened last weekend). On cue with the neighborhood, BaDesign recently gave the Dogtown Farm Table an upgrade prompted by a commission from Bio-Logical Capital.  Bio-Logical Capial is a “land investment, development and conservation company” that recently opened a new office in San Francisco.  We designed and made conference tables for the two meeting rooms in their new location downtown.  The criteria for the first table included the use of reclaimed wood, a length of 19′ and a design that complimented the character of the space.  Limited access to the second floor conference room prompted a variation of the Dogtown Farm Table (it can be disassembled for transport). But this iteration of the Dogtown had to be more refined to accommodate men in suits, women in fine woolen garments and modern office chairs. As a result, we selected only vertical grain tongue and groove reclaimed timbers and gave the top a charred and oiled finish for a sleek look that retains the character of the re-purposed wood. The original saw-horse style base was swapped for two asymmetrical steel piers constructed of interlocking plates . The result is the Refectory–perfect for a holiday feast with friends and family if office parties are not your thing (for reference, a 19′ long table can seat 14-18 people).   Contact us for orders and custom options.

Details on the second table are yet to come.  

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BaDesign Plants a Parklet

parklet planting
Oakland’s first Parklet was unveiled today–Park(ing) Day 2012— at Farley’s East.  The Parklet Program was launched last year in Oakland and is modeled after San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks initiative.  We had the honor of helping bring Farley’s Parklet project into fruition by selecting and helping install the plants:  a combination of Lamb’s ears, Italian and French strawberrys, and a dwarf Strawberry tree (hanging planters still to come)!

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On a Mission : Small Business

pstool 3

PALLETstool : seat supports made from repurposed wood pallets, recycled felt padding to replace traditional polyurethane foam, and leather upholstery from scrap material (as shown).  Solid hardwood seats made from pallets also available


Thanks to a program sponsored by Chase and LivingSocial called Mission: Small Business℠, your support could translate into a $250,000 grant for a small business such as BaDesign. But we need at least 250 votes by June 30th to qualify.  To vote:

  • Log in to www.missionsmallbusiness.com with your facebook or twitter account
  • click “Support” on the home page
  • look for BaDesign under business name and vote for us!
It only takes a minute of your time and could mean a huge opportunity for a small business such as ours. Meanwhile we’ll be working on our business plan which includes setting up a manufacturing facility for creating high quality furniture from repurposed materials, purchasing new equipment to make our processes more efficient and hiring local skilled labor.  Thank you for your support!

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East Bay Open Studios at Jack London Square

open studios @ jack london square

Last night the Oakland Indie Awards were held at the Kaiser rooftop garden. We are pleased to announce that BaDesign won the Greenie Award!!! Scavenging for shipping pallets and repurposing the wood into high quality, modern furniture earned us the title of “environmental hero”.

Come see what environmental heroes do this weekend and next (June 2-3 & 9-10, 11AM-6PM) at Jack London Square’s Market Hall where we will have PALLETproducts and more on display as part of East Bay Open Studios. 30 additional artists will be showing their work at the Market Hall (55 Harrison Street).

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BaDesign featured as one of Oakland’s Environmental Heroes

green business

 BaDesign was recently featured in San Francisco Business Times as one of Oakland’s diverse green businesses for our PALLETproducts furniture line–contemporary, high end furniture made from wood repurposed from shipping pallets.  Thank you to Stephen Lautze at the City of Oakland for the nice write-up. 

Green Oakland Business

We’ve also been nominated for this year’s Oakland Indie Greenie Award.  The Greenie is given to “our environmental hero[es], immersed in sustainable practices.”  If you want to see some of the goods that heroes make, we’ll be exhibiting furniture at the Market Hall at Jack London Square the first 2 weekends of June (Saturday and Sunday) as part of the East Bay Open Studios.  See you there!!!

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