In the age of impersonal internet commerce, the ability to engage a community both online and off is a coveted skill. Bond Hardware’s Dana Hurwitz and Mariah Pershadsingh have it in spades. The three-year-old experimental jewelry label’s loyal following is as enamored by the amusing Instagram filters of their signature metal nose-strips as they are with the real thing. “I think a certain type of person is drawn to things that are a little disconcerting and a certain type of person is off-put by them,” Hurwitz muses, minutes before Bond Hardware’s first open-studio event. “People in subcultures use certain motifs to find like-minded people. You may even want to use visual identifiers to keep certain people away.” Bond Hardware has become an identifiable tribe of its own. United by Hurwitz and Pershadsingh’s distinctive aesthetic, which gives mundane, utilitarian objects a slightly fetishistic treatment, the brand’s following has only grown with its offerings.
What began with a range of jewelry informed by a nail Hurwitz found over a decade ago at an antiques fair in Rome has evolved into thoughtfully crafted collection of non-corrosive, hypoallergenic earrings, pendants, hair pins, chokers, and more that reference industrial objects including chainsaw blades, washers, and hitch locks. This fall, the 2019-2020 CFDA Elaine Gold Launchpad fellows have unveiled their first range of furniture and art objects.
Naturally, one of their first large-scale pieces—a nine-foot, hand-welded aerospace grade aluminum nail—now pierces the highest wall of their cavernous East Williamsburg studio. Emblematic of the duo’s ability to turn ubiquitous objects into surrealist statements, the nail leaves plenty of room for interpretation. “People project their own life experience onto recognizable, nostalgic objects,” Hurwitz says. “That’s the beauty of using them [as references]. We’re not telling our audience what to think. It all becomes personal.”
Over the years, clients have likened their perforated metal cuffs and nose-strips informed by urban architecture to thimbles and bandages. In their debut range of furniture, Carrara marble and stainless steel tables that split at the center—referencing medieval pillories—were mistaken by clients for allusions to a razor blade. “People have the opportunity to give these pieces their own context,” Pershadsingh adds. “People use these objects in ways that we wouldn’t. Our visuals are pared back because the jewelry and the furniture speak for themselves. It’s hard to not over-concept something, but that’s an important part of the exercise.” Like the weighty hammerhead rings and light aluminum ear cuffs in Bond Hardware’s main collection, its furniture and objects are expressed in stark shapes with durable, industrial materials. Despite its striking, almost clinical first impression, Hurwitz and Pershadsingh’s work goes on to reveal its warmth and playfulness.
Found objects rooted in personal narratives are in part responsible for the collection’s soft side. “It was in really bad shape and covered in mylar so I wanted to refinish it and use it as a display piece,” Hurwitz says of a four-step staircase that sits adjacent to their in-house casting studio. Originally built by her friend as a DJ stand, the reflective stairs serve as a reminder of Hurwitz’s early days as a Pratt student, which centered around socializing on the steps of Brooklyn brownstones. “Stoop life is a very New York thing,” she says proudly. “I also love the existential staircase to nowhere.”
Fittingly, a series of Nail Stiletto sculptures are displayed atop the short flight of stairs. Laser-cut pieces of plexiglass hand-moulded to resemble the footbeds of pumps were mounted onto six-inch, mirror-polished brass nails for an entirely sinister effect. “The nail makes such a perfect heel,” Hurwitz says. “You don’t want the spike to face down because you can’t walk on it, but you also don’t want it to go through your foot.” Though these sculptures seemingly portray high heels as physically debilitating, the impetus behind creating them points to a simpler rationale. “It was a fun opportunity to play with scale,” Hurwitz admits, noting the endless tension between pragmatism and aesthetic pursuits. “It comes with a Bond-branded can of rubber cement,” Pershadsingh adds, laughing. “If you wanted, you could glue it to your foot and walk around.” With a bit of humor, the pair manages to keep their rather personal, existentially-charged work from feeling aloof or overly sentimental.
“We’re always outgrowing the limitations of our category,” Hurwitz notes. “That’s why we’re called Bond Hardware. We make hardware that can be applied to anything by changing scale and material.” As opposed to feeling limited by their label’s established design codes, the duo finds ways to apply it to different mediums. In the coming year, Hurwitz and Pershadsingh hope to collaborate with designers on hardware for their ready-to-wear collections. “It’s sad that people make such beautiful clothes, but they use stock zippers and stock hardware,” Hurwitz laments. “It’s just too much for designers to take on every little aspect of something.” Pershadsingh agrees, “Making metal is its own art form, so it would be wonderful to make hardware for other brands, like Dana did for Prabal Gurung back in 2015.”
This more enterprising pursuit is balanced by a slightly more indulgent one. “I have vintage car,” Hurwtiz says excitedly. “My next project is going to be detaching all the hardware components from it to make custom castings.” Pershadsingh chimes in, “A Bond Mobile, really. See, the possibilities are endless.”
Images courtesy of Bond Hardware