Back in May, Inhabitat discovered a cool new designer showing off her incredible recycled hanging chandeliers at BKLYN Designs 2013. Called Urban Chandies, these gorgeous lighting fixtures are as green as they get—handmade locally and employing scrap materials reclaimed across New York and the USA. We recently caught up with Urban Chandy founder and designer Cassidy Brush at her Brooklyn studio to find out a little more about her process and her commitment to creating sustainable designs. Keep reading to hear what she has to say about being a designer in NYC, where she finds inspiration, and her go-tos for the best recycled materials around. And don’t forget to vote for Urban Chandy in the Martha Stewart American Made Competition—they were just announced as finalists!
INHABITAT: How did you get your start designing lamps? You worked in another industry prior, correct?
CASSIDY BRUSH: Yes, I worked in the fashion apparel industry as a sales executive and business development consultant. I was actually running an online retail shop when I made the first Urban Chandy!
I had an office space in DUMBO and needed to improve the lighting from these horrible fluorescent lights. I couldn’t find anything that had the look that I was going for (something with an industrial look) so I decided to make something myself. I finally had to get a studio space when the operation took over our master bedroom and both bathrooms! I have 3 amazing gals that are working with me now making Urban Chandies everyday.
INHABITAT: What is the design process like? Where do you draw inspiration from?
CASSIDY: My design process begins with the materials I find, their specific properties and limitations lead the way for what we can do with them. I like to build samples and shoot them, then take them apart and rebuild them, change up the different elements of it, and then shoot them again. I draw inspiration from everywhere—the materials I find, the places we visit in and outside of Brooklyn/NYC, and a basic need to create functional lighting for often times not very well lit NYC apartments!
INHABITAT: Does being a Brooklyn-based designer impact your creative process?
CASSIDY: Absolutely! And in what I think are very positive ways. As Brooklynites and New Yorkers, we live in one of the most spatially challenged areas in the country with many of the oldest buildings which equates to old electrical wiring or non-existent wiring in the ceiling. Also we live in an area that is super conscientious of energy use and reducing waste. And it’s no secret that Brooklyn has an amazing community of makers that are extremely supportive of each other, it’s even home to Etsy. All of these things affect the creative process for me.
INHABITAT: Where do you find your materials?
CASSIDY: Anywhere and everywhere. Build It Green is one of my biggest local suppliers. I also find things through friends and family members, all now keeping an eye out for Chandy materials! I also find a lot of things in Texas where I grew up, it’s just easy to find resources there.
INHABITAT: What style is your own home decorated in? Do you keep with the same aesthetic as your designs?
CASSIDY: Our home is decorated in a sort of eclectic mix of West Elm meets Etsy meets Ikea Hackers with a bunch of toddler toys thrown about. I think my home is pretty representative of my designs—it screams “making it work!”
INHABITAT: Are there any other designers you admire, living or dead?
CASSIDY: Oh that’s a tough one. I admire so many! One of my favorites that I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting is John Varvatos. He’s a genius. I have so much respect and admiration for all other makers and designers out there because it’s not so easy to put yourself out there.
INHABITAT: Do you have any exciting projects or plans in the works that you’d like to share?
CASSIDY: Our most exciting news it that we are nominated for the Martha Stewart American Made Competition. Voting for the Audience Choice Award begins Monday, August 26th, 2013 and we are psyched to be part of the competition for the first time!