John Ford is the co-founder of A Single Tree Inc. (AST) and owner of John Ford Design. AST is a specialized, digitally based production shop that handles projects ranging from modern furniture prototyping to large-scale architectural interior build-outs. Running parallel with the less personal projects of AST is John Ford Design. The desire to readdress the required functionality of modern furniture design with a more personally driven point of view and aesthetic was launched in 2012 at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York. In providing clients with designs inherently informed by fabrication and manufacturing processes, allowing for cost-effective and streamlined building, AST offers itself as an alternative to the standard formula of “designed by one, built by another.” With the dual background of a fine arts education and more than 25 years of experience in the world of construction and fabrication, Ford has played a hybrid role of artist, designer, digital/traditional fabricator and technical engineer for numerous commercial and residential projects on an international level for the past 15 years. With projects ranging from the CNC milling of carbon-fiber aircraft components to large-scale topographic models in Dubai, the focus is always on the distillation of ideas and the essence of execution to most effectively and efficiently express the creative intent. In 2011 he served as a consultant for Sun Hill Machinery in Washington State and Taiwan. John Ford’s furniture designs have been shown at IMM Cologne, the Milan Furniture Fair, and ICFF in New York and is currently represented by Haute Living in Chicago. Select clients include Boeing, 3 Form industries, Riva Spa 1920, Gehry Partners, Fendi, Warner Bros. and Saks Fifth Ave. Outside of his studio work, Ford teaches at Art Center College of Design. Classes taught include composition and painting (1999-2006); he currently teaches Digital Process 5, 6 and 7, and Topic Studio Furniture.
Nolen Niu is an American industrial designer recognized for his holistic approach to design and clean, provocative aesthetics. Beginning in January 2015, he was featured as a judge on Spike TV’s highly anticipated show, Framework, alongside furniture designer Brandon Gore and hip-hop artist Common, who also host. The first-ever furniture design competition series, Framework features 13 emerging furniture designers who compete over the course of 10 weeks for a $100,000 cash prize and the opportunity for their work to be sold by a major manufacturer. After receiving his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design from Art Center College of Design, Niu developed private furniture lines, custom one-of-a-kind pieces, mass production furniture, and residential and retail spaces for corporate, private and celebrity clientele. In 2005, Niu ventured out globally and began developing a collection of upholstered goods under the Nolen Niu brand. He was one of only a few American designers to be selected and awarded the opportunity to exhibit at the 2006 Salone Satellite Milan Furniture Fair, where he debuted his first collection and received enthusiastic reviews from the international community. In conjunction with his selection for the Salone Satellite, Nolen Niu was one of 10 designers chosen to be showcased at the ICFF Studio/Bernhardt Design joint-venture exhibit, a juried event that supports emerging talent. Niu has also completed the sixth rendition of the Annual Esquire Magazine House, where he was one of four designers chosen to design a room in a 7,000-square-foot ultramodern mansion located high atop the Hollywood Hills, which hosted celebrity-driven charity events for multiple organizations. In 2011, Niu opened his own production facility, specializing in upholstery and carpentry, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. This makes him one of the few American furniture designers who are completely vertically integrated, with the ability to competitively design and manufacture his products entirely in the United States. Born and raised in the Washington, D.C. metro area in 1975, Niu moved to Los Angeles in 1996 to attend Art Center. Niu’s corporate office is located in Beverly Hills with a private studio and production facility in downtown Los Angeles.
Dan Gottlieb and Penny Herscovitch are Los Angeles-based designers and design educators. Together they lead the design studio Padlab and are associate professors in the Environmental Design department at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Padlab’s work encompasses materials research and innovation, illumination and spatial installation design. The pair has lectured internationally, including: United Nations Pavilion at the World Expo, Shanghai; LightFair International, New York; Peruvian National Innovation Week, Lima; Royal College of Art, London; The Center for Architecture, New York; and Professional Lighting Designers’ Association, Los Angeles. Padlab’s work has been published extensively, including: A+U, ICON, Azure, Architectural Record, Business Week, Interior Design, Metropolitan Home, The Washington Post, Princeton Architectural Press’s Transmaterial and Materials Monthly. Herscovitch has experience conducting research and writing for renowned institutions and firms, including Morphosis Architects. The pair has co-lead international collaborations including the 2014 “Light & Shadow” project in Tokyo, Japan—part of the Pacific Rim initiative between Art Center and Tama Art University, Tokyo—as well as the award-winning Safe Agua project, initiated in 2009 between Art Center’s Designmatters and Socialab, the innovation center of the NGO TECHO, to design innovative solutions to overcome water poverty in Latin American communities. To date, Safe Agua has garnered more than 50 awards, including Core77 Design Awards, IDSA/IDEA, Red Dot and Fast Company; and exhibited internationally, including the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum’s Design with the Other 90% at the United Nations, New York. The pair designed the Safe Agua international traveling exhibit, shown at the Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, D.C., Royal College of Art in London and the Cumulus Conference in Shanghai. In 2003, Gottlieb received his Master of Architecture and Herscovitch her B.A. in Architecture, both from Yale.