Homefront: High Notes

Cherry Hill native Brad Ascalon has an eye for design — and an ear for it, too. The musician-turned-furniture-designer sets chairs, tables and even the humble toilet-paper dispenser to music.

Beginning with a sketch that will be refined as a computer rendering, Ascalon experiments with glass, steel, plywood and other materials to develop prototypes inspired by modern classical music. The Echo Chaise, made of upholstered bolsters strung together on a steel frame, curves like a bass clef, and the playful Splash toilet-paper storage system has an unmistakable feel of rhythmic improvisation.

Ascalon’s furniture has lately developed some buzz on design blogs, but the precedent for his success was set early, when the one-time radio promotions employee followed a change of heart to Pratt Institute in New York City, where he studied industrial design and interned for world-famous designer Karim Rashid. While still a student, Ascalon was chosen by Wallpaper magazine as one of the top ten “most wanted” up-and-coming designers for his Tivola Chair, a bent plywood piece that integrates a chair and side table into a sleek, stylized hybrid.

Now he works to make furniture that invites customers to become a part of the design process by offering different structural options and fabric choices. “It’s all about personalization,” he says. “We live in and around furniture 24-7. It should be so much more than something to sit on or sleep in. It should be interesting. It should strike up conversations. It should be expressive, memorable, even daring.”

side bar: new beat: Each of Brad Ascalon’s creative, flexible designs is its own opus, clockwise from top left: the Echo Chaise; the Hourglass Barstool; Stand storage units; and Splash toilet-paper storage system.