A career in tech may seem like an unlikely prelude to the pursuit of fine lighting design, but for Boulder-based artist Ted Bradley, who left Google in 2019 to pursue his passions for ceramics and sculpture, it couldn’t have happened any other way.
“I definitely couldn’t have created my designs without being a mechanical engineer,” Bradley says of his light sculptures, like the Samsara fixture, which marries graceful, LED-lit porcelain rings with rigid, geometric brass vertebrae. “The art part, where I envision the design, takes sometimes as little as a few seconds to imagine and 30 seconds to sketch. The making part, the problem-solving, is raw engineering that, in the case of the illuminated rings, took 12 months and over 1,300 pounds of clay.”
Coaxing the delicate New Zealand porcelain—one of the whitest varieties in the world—into the perfect rings required by Samsara and other designs is so complex, in fact, that it takes Bradley more than 300 steps and several weeks to complete just one—“and for every good ring, there are two or three that failed,” he says.
But for Bradley, the reward is in that process. “Even deeper than my desire to finally bring together these two areas of perpetual tension—the artist and the engineer—was the desire to pursue the impossible goal of perfection,” he says. “To create a perfect circle with the imperfect tools of my hands.”