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Catching Fire: Brandon Williams & Martin Young

Catching Fire: Brandon Williams & Martin Young

Who doesn’t have fond memories of roasting marshmallows over an open flame? It was this image, along with his wife’s challenge to create a stylish outdoor fireplace to meld with their midcentury modern home, that first inspired custom steelworker Brandon Williams to devise the cone-shaped prototype that sparked the inception of Phoenix’s Modfire studio. “I thought I’d just do one simple sketch for myself,” says Williams, “but everyone who saw it went crazy for it.” Cofounded with friend and business manager Martin Young, Modfire produces steel fireplaces in a variety of natural and vibrant color finishes. “Although we obviously lean toward modern, what I find fascinating is mixing styles,” Young says. “I recently saw one of our designs in a Key West-style home and just fell in love with the combination.” A perfect blend of old-world craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology, each product starts with an artisan rolling a laser-cut flat pattern into shape and ends with Williams getting his hands on every piece to, what he says, “put my heart and soul into each design.”

LX: Current projects:

BW: We just finished up our second order for Design Within Reach, which is pretty exciting for us. I’m also looking forward to a new product we have coming up for spring.

LX: Keep an eye on:

MY: Our friends at Atomic Living Design in Denver. Lisa and Jesse Detschermitsch are doing some amazing work; their pieces are retro with modern, clean lines, but still have amazing warmth to them.

LX: Every designer should:

BW: Remember not to make unfair comparisons. Spielberg didn’t start with E.T.; he began by making 8mm stop-motion films. You can’t judge your new work against someone in his or her prime.

LX: What’s inspiring you now?

MY: I love that technology is shrinking the distance between great design and the public. The growing number of blogs and online magazines and retailers has opened the door for so many smaller companies previously limited to local markets. 

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