Illustrious furniture-and-everything-else maker BDDW is taking a stab at the online auction game, forgoing the services of gallery-approved peddlers for the same technology your dad uses to sell his old tech toys. "eBay's got it down," proclaims Tyler Hays, the man at the helm of this unique production. "It's kind of cheesy and low-brow, but it works. Their system is better."
The polar opposite of cheesy, BDDW is known for furniture with an elegant, playful, yet naturalistic sensibility. Among its best known pieces are live-edge tables on hand forged metal legs, sleek credenzas with rough hewn door fronts and slender bolt-like hardware, and a classic captain's mirror bound in leather and hung by a strap on a bronze peg.
Tonight's online event begins at 8:30pm EST, and ends during the intermission of BDDW's invite-only showroom auction on March 24th. The 16 eBay lots will include a pulley lamp prototype that is the first version of a new offering.
Hays recalls the original online auction attempted by the company almost three years ago, which he deems "a crazy fiasco." With a simultaneous co-happening at the brand's brick-and-mortar Crosby Street showroom, the event "had thousands of emails coming in from all over the world, and the auction company's server shut down because they thought they had a virus." Clearly, the massive response was unanticipated. "We thought it would be kind of a small thing."
Never one to shy away from big ideas, Hays balances an artistically insatiable nature with innate entrepreneurial prowess. "I have 100 people working for me making stuff every day," notes the designer on BDDW's studio in Philadelphia. "Everything is under one roof. The ceramics studio, the production, woodworking, prototypes... everything." In an operation of this scale, "there's always mistakes, things built an inch too short, or the wrong color. Scratches, dings, stuff that's damaged on delivery that's too costly to repair. Or just one-offs that never really worked cause they're weird." When faced with "a giant warehouse full of stuff," the reasonable thing to do is purge.
"I always start the bid at a dollar," shares Hays. "If we happen to have nobody who wants a ten-foot table, except for one person, well, I love giving a little back to the clients who support me. We've had some stuff go for $200, and I love it!" Other times, "We'll fix a mistake with a really cool, beautiful patch and it actually goes for more than retail because it's unique."
At next month's Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the syndicate will show more than new lighting, ceramics, and handmade bricks - things all relatively within the realm of home goods. Just because Hays feels like it, they'll be "doing some hand-painted dresses. We have fun with the clothing in Milan." The inexhaustible curiosity of its founder has borne BDDW fruit as varied as an archery club to an in-house brewery.
Be sure to check out the BDDW eBay auction store tonight to see what sorts of goodies are up for grabs.
· All On The Auction Block coverage [Curbed National]
· Furniture Maker Tyler Hays on His Design Firm BDDW [WSJ. Magazine]