For our first ever exclusive interview, we spoke with Bernard Brucha, the founder of MASHstudios, a multi-faceted design company out of Los Angeles. MASHstudios is unique in that they do it all—they’re not just an architecture firm, or an interior design firm or a furniture design studio. The designers at MASHstudios have designed work spaces for offices, amazing retail stores and have a catalog of gorgeous furniture designs filled with natural materials, sleek lines and fun functionality. We spoke with Bernard over the phone while he was hard at work in his studio—we love hearing the atmosphere of a real design studio in the background!
Need a thoughtful and convenient link to MASHstudios furniture now that you’ve heard how awesome they are in the interview? You got it.
Rather read Bernard’s interview? We’ve got the transcript right here:
2M: We’re here with Bernard Brucha, who in 2002 founded MASHstudios, a multi-disciplinary design firm in Los Angeles that works on work space projects, retails stores and residential spaces. Thanks for being here, Bernard.
BB: Thanks for having me, Adrienne.
2M: So for those who aren’t familiar with your firm, why don’t you tell us a little bit about it?
BB: Okay, we are a Los Angeles based design firm. I guess when you’re trying to define us I think we’re unique in the sense that we’re still trying to design everything. Our focus is definitely on furniture but we do quite a bit of interior spaces, once in awhile we’ll get to tabletop and housewares, dabbling in architecture from time to time. But what keeps us excited over here is design is design—it’s across the boards. That was kind of the concept of MASH, mixing different design categories into one, and we use each of these disciplines to achieve projects together.
2M: Yeah, that’s what I liked reading about MASHstudios so much is that I bet people really love to work there because you get to work on so many different aspects of one project.
BB: I hope so. You know it’s difficult because every project is really so different. It’s rare that we’re working on the same thing for more than, you know, a couple of weeks, and that is kind of the exciting part. Things tend to be pretty fast-paced around here. It’s not like we’re designing a museum and working on that for ten years or something like that. Our projects tend to be pretty quick. But like I said that’s the exciting part: everyone seems to have a good time around here.
2M: And how many people work for MASHstudios?
BB: You know, we shrink and grow at any given time. Right now there’s about six of us here. But like I said, we have a few different things going. We have standard products that we deal with; we have some interior spaces we’re working on—everything’s flowing. The whole notion of MASH early on was this real collaborative effort so we do bring on outside talent from time to time. So it really depends on what we’re working on.
2M: And how did you get into the design field? When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
BB: You know what? I don’t know. That’s kind of a tough one. I guess, I do remember the question, graduating high school and having someone say “now what?” I was lucky enough to have someone in my family in the design field-my sister-said ‘hey, what do you want to do?’ and I guess I explained what my perfect job was and she said ‘oh you want to be an industrial designer.’ So I guess that’s where that started.
2M: Cool. And is there anything that’s really exciting you in the design world right now? Any designers or projects that you’ve seen recently that are really blowing your mind?
BB: You know what? It’s impossible for me to say there’s one. There really are so many—I don’t like to say there’s one guy’s work that I’m into right now. To tell you the truth, what really excites me lately: the Internet has really allowed younger designers to show off their wares in a way that ten years ago we weren’t really able to do. Ten years ago you had to really rely on books and magazines to find out who was doing what. Whereas now there are all these great blog sites who are picking up great young talent. They’re the ones that inspire me I guess; they’re the ones that keep me from becoming one of these old designers who is doing the same thing day after day. Short answer: I don’t want to say; there’s such a multitude.
2M: Well we consider MASHstudios to be a very successful design firm. What steps did you take to get it there?
BB: Um, you want to hear it out? A lot of hard work. I guess it was funny, after school I moved to New York, and that’s kind of where I cut my teeth, my training/proving grounds, where I put in a lot of hard hours and what not. I guess now what we’re trying to edge up to is using all our experiences in the past, of kind of accumulating this knowledge, and now applying it to bigger more important work. Our standard product we had in the beginning was the launch of the LAXseries, and that really started about 8 years ago hanging on my wall and the wall of a friend for two years before a company was sort of founded around that. So on top of that the custom work I guess, but that’s always going to be its own thing.
2M: I want to ask you what’s been your favorite project to work on, but I feel like it might be a similar answer to not being able to pick what’s exciting out there. It’s hard to choose, huh?
BB: Well again we’ve done a pretty broad range of work. I mean if you want to ask retail we really did have a great client in Kid Robot doing those stores, those were a lot fun because they are who they are and were really embracing design, so that was a fun project there. In terms of furniture, we’ve got a couple lines of our own that are certainly—I consider those our babies over here. We put a whole lot of attention into every piece we put out there and really that’s our calling card. Anytime there’s a piece that goes out and it’s got the MASHstudios stamp on that means we—it’s important to me that it goes out representing our company. To be honest with you there is a project coming out in—probably going to be shown in ICFF in May that’s going to be a pretty big deal for us. We’re super excited about it over here; we’ve all been working hard on the design and I’m pretty excited about that one. So right now in the studio that’s the baby.
2M: Can you give us any hints as to what it’s going to be or…?
BB: I guess it’s going to be a little bit like…if you’ve seen the LAXseries it’s got some hints in there just in terms of some of the materials we like to work with here. But we are embracing some new processes as well as some different materials here. In designing furniture systems we’re always listening to what people say and what people want. And one of the requests was hey, we’re looking for some storage that’s maybe a little bit modular and something like that. So, that might play a little role in the design, so look out for that one.
2M: Okay, last question. If you weren’t a designer, what do you think you’d be doing?
BB: Oh you know that’s funny, I’ve been asked that before. You know I’m a big outdoor enthusiast, big nature enthusiast—I’d like to think I’d be doing something like that. So how that ties into design, I don’t know. But in my life it’s a big influence.
2M: Very cool. Well thank you so much for talking with Bernard.
BB: Thank you.
2M: For more information about Bernard and MASHstudios, you can visit mashstudios.com. You’ve been listening to a 2modern designer interview. For more fun podcasts, inspiring design posts and design advice, check out the blog at 2modern.com.
If you’d rather have an MP3 of Bernard’s interview:
Bernard Brucha 2modern Interview