Sometimes, on a very rare occasion, the jaded seen-it-all, done-it-all Editor of a high-end fashion and lifestyle publication, is stopped dead in his tracks. It is in such a time, that The Matrix movie becomes a reality, and he like NEO, is suspended in that slow-motion time warped space of disbelief.
How could it be; how is it possible that such a thing exists; what is real Morpheus? Could something as beautiful and exquisitely crafted as this, exist? It cannot possibly be real; it must be some sort of illusion of trick photography. Connect with them; get their story, as this cannot be. But “be” it is, and “realer” than real it is. Hudson does exist, it is impeccable and it has stopped me dead in my tracks with just a simple word: WOW.
INTERVIEW W/ DESIGNER BARLAS BAYLAR
KA- We live in a “throw away” society, but you have actually flipped the script. How did this vision of reclaiming petrified wood come into being?
BB- This was my vision from Day 1: to work with indigenous farmers to salvage ancient, felled trees, that would languish roadside or even be burned, or thrown away. Instead, I decided to design these amazingly large pieces into furniture, and the timing was right, because our clients loved them from the start. Under my direction, our team of artisans crafts each piece of furniture into one of a kind collectibles, with inherent integrity in the wood. Many of the Petrified wood trees were not used, as the shapes did not lend themselves to become functional furniture. We crafted distinctly large-sized, abandoned pieces into our Hudson Furniture Collection, for the first time stateside, seven years ago. They’ve become sculptures for the home, that nature helped create. My inspiration was Noguchi and Brancusi, both known for letting nature be their guide.
KA- 2 million-year-old petrified wood tables! How is this possible?
BB- Yes, they are actually 1 to 2 million-year-old pieces; they get their color from the minerals in the soil. Volcanic ash prevents the wood to decay, therefore, slowly over time turning into rocks, keeping the shape of the log. This accounts for the unique iron and mineral-striated pieces. These petrified trees originated in ancient forests with tremendous volcanic activity; then salvaged by me, in conjunction with our team of local experts, in Asia and South America.
KA- When in the creation process, are you guided by the grain and designs occurring naturally within the wood?
BB- Always: this has been my creative direction since founding Hudson Furniture Collection. Mother Nature is the very best designer, guiding our work everyday.
KA- Do you feel that even after 1 to 2 million years, you are still creating with a living object, in a state of suspended animation, to which you might be giving new life?
BB- It’s so inspiring on every design level. I see this over and over in the incredibly adaptive, creative way that our custom furniture is used and displayed; in both private homes and at boutique retailers and hotels, nationally. It is sculpture that serves a function.
KA- Your lights are incredible and remind one of couture pieces (clothing); are you influenced by the couture process?
BB- Yes very much so, as seen in our joint creative work with Alexander McQueen, last year. His iconic ‘Shipwreck’ dress, inspired my initial lighting design; our first ‘couture’ chandeliers, Mother and Atlantis. This is likely the reason that they continue to be our best sellers. These chandeliers are collected by top designers glob- ally; appreciated for their organic armature and jewelry-influenced, 3-mile nickel chain, hand strung in our New York City Atelier, draped to a very dramatic and flattering effect, as is a couture gown.
KA- What are you presently reading?
BB- I recently read a project history of New York architect, Ralph Walker. I’m also working with Clodagh’s Thorn Tree Project,so I am reading about that non-profit’s mission and her; with whom I’ve collaborated over the past several years.
KA- If a house was to only have one piece of furnishing, what should it be?
BB- A large communal table for eating, drinking, meeting and working.
KA- KA Magazine feels that “recycle” has received a bad rep, where most things reclaimed are done so for park benches. Do you see this Hudson trend of “beauty first” catching on?
BB- Yes, upcycling is what it’s all about these days.
KA- Where does the name Hudson come from?
BB- I have always lived and worked along the Hudson River, in New York City’s West Village, and upstate in Rhinebeck. I also have a very cute male dog with the same name. The city skyline inspires a lot of my more architectural designs, including Gehry’s IAC building, located near our showroom.
KA- Are there another Hudson showroom elsewhere, other than NYC?
BB- We have a Hudson Furniture showroom in Seoul, Korea, and we have affiliate showrooms across the country in key markets. Internationally, we have showrooms in Taipei, Istanbul, Dubai, Monterrey and Frankfurt
KA- At the writing of this interview, NYC was hit with a devastating hurricane; how has this affected you as a person?
BB- It shows that we’re a resilient community; that design thinking, engineering and smart planning around sustainable architecture, is really very important. I’m so thankful for my great teams in Brooklyn, Manhattan and of course my friends and family, for their support of our larger vision and work together.
KA- What is new in Hudson?
BB- Everything is always new, it’s New York City. New designs, programs, partnerships are evolving for 2013.
KA- Who is Barlas Baylar?
BB- I’m a global person who rarely stays in one place. Loving travel and a business challenge, I’ve always lived in places rather than be a tourist; everywhere from a small village in Brazil, to London where I was educated, my native Istanbul, to New York where I reside and work — even Asia and Africa too.