FAD: You’re a real power couple – amazing artists who’ve come together to create such inspired pieces. Tell us a bit more about yourselves!
Cody: Behind the scenes of Untitled Co, we are a sculptor and art director duo. I make everything by hand in Brooklyn and Ali makes sure that each piece is represented in all its beauty through her photography. I have always worked with my hands and found that art was a way for me to express my ideas through my craft. By day I’m an art handler, which can be demanding, but I still find time to get on my bike – last summer I rode across the country. I love food and I absolutely love to eat.
Ali: I am an art director, nature lover, photographer, travel addict, film connoisseur, book nerd, and stargazer. I’m originally from Colorado, which I’ve learned says a lot about me. I have a passion for pops of color, light, and texture. Oh, and I never put down my camera.
FAD: Tell us more about how you each got started in your respective crafts – woodworking and photography.
Cody: I’ve always had a habit of tinkering around the garage and working with my hands. A family friend taught me wood carving which developed my outlook that art was a way to explore various techniques. I found myself drawn to different forms of craftsmanship – ceramics, metal smithing, Japanese woodworking etc. and I began to realize how importing these fleeting skills are to my creative practice.
Ali: For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted a camera on me to document the small moments – the light flickers and strange nuances of the world. In middle school and high school, I would always drag my friends out to “photoshoots”. I never took official photography classes, but I somehow became a photography TA in high school and went on to work in the photo lab in college, which allowed me to sit in on some amazing studio courses. A co-worker at my first job found out that I could use a camera and before long I was shooting behind the scenes at fashion wee.
FAD: How did you decide to launch your own brand?
Ali: It’s been quite a long development! We met in art school, where Cody was studying sculpture, and I, art direction, and we’ve been doing creative things together since then. Although Cody was primarily a sculptor, he often made furniture for me or his family – one-of-a-kind, sculptural pieces that very much reflected his artistic sensibility. However, he wouldn’t do it for work at that time because he wanted to focus on his art.
A few years ago, I secretly set up an Instagram account for him with the hope that one day he would use it to share his furniture pieces. Cody always had a lot of pieces that he named “Untitled” and I realize many artists throughout history had the same hesitation with naming their work. I think there is something beautiful about having the desire to create something visual with your hands and heart but not being able to describe it with words.
Cody: Throughout my artistic practice, I’ve always had furniture on my mind. There is something about the process of creating an object that can be utilized for a function in life that felt very gratifying to me. However, as Ali said, I pushed the desire to create furniture away, feeling like I needed to devote myself fully to my sculpture practice.
My perspective changed after I took a bike trip last summer. Returning after riding across the country, I felt energized and I realized that no matter what I did, I would still be true to the same creative values. Ali was supportive and the more we talked about it, the more it felt like a great idea for us to tag team on a larger project together.
FAD: Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?
Cody: My creations always start with an object, something that I admire and hold on to. For years, I squirreled away bits of pieces of wood, enjoying the material but also thinking about the larger story: Where was this scrap from? Who has the rest of it? Many of the very first Untitled Co. creations were fragments of other things.
Ali: I find a lot of inspiration when I take walks. Whether traveling overseas or just walking around Brooklyn, the slowed paced lets me look at things differently. I also really enjoy going to restaurants where everything is beautifully curated, from serving platters and the interior design to the food and staff. It’s amazing to see so much hard work and creativity purely for the sake of food.
FAD: What would you say is the most challenging aspect of running Untitled Co.?
Ali & Cody: Balance. We’re in a relationship, we both have busy full-time jobs and many other passions and interests. It’s important to us to make sure we have the time and energy for everything without getting too stressed out.
FAD: We're celebrating NYCxDesign in May. Name one designer or design that you've been inspired by and tell us why.
Ali: In my first years at art school I struggled a lot with deciding a major. A professor saw this and introduced me to Charles and Ray Eames – not just as furniture designers but also as people who had many different interests and utilized whichever medium best served their ideas of the moment, from graphic design and to fine art or film. This was and is still an important lesson for me – to not feel limited when you have an idea and to take whatever avenue you need to in order to realize it.
Cody: For the past few years I’ve had Franz West on my mind after discovering his furniture designs. The relationship between art and function has always stumped me and it is refreshing to see someone who could deal with it so naturally. West has a wonderful sensibility for using materials for their inherent qualities and I found myself taken with his fun, playful approach in blurring the lines between art, function and design.