Designer insights with Boris Bally

Boris Bally is an industrial designer and gifted crafts person creating unique art using the dissected remains of street signs. Boris is a discriminating sculptor with a meaningful and disciplined body of work that is both eccentric and humorous. His thought provoking pieces reflect a distorted view of our ordered world. His work is more than just a profession it is a seamless lifestyle, that is integrated into his family life. So we are proud to bring you the Designer Insights of Boris Bally.

Designer Insights - Boris Bally

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1) In your own words describe your unique style and creative aesthetic?

My aesthetic direction is a derivative of cultural and family background which is informed by sophisticated crafts training melded with my desire to reflect critical social issues. Born to Swiss parents (father designer, mother fiber artist) I was raised in the USA and have become a hybrid of the contrasting cultures. My apprenticeship as a goldsmith in Basel was offset by art school training (Tyler school of Art/ Temple and later Carnegie Mellon University). Hopefully, my work reflects the accessibility afforded by production design. I also understand the importance of keeping our craft skills/ field alive. My aim is to create interactive, multi-layered works spiced with relevant conceptual issues.

2) When starting a new project, what is your creative process?

I always start with a challenge: either personal or external. Sometimes I give myself an 'assignment,' such as I must design a menorah, symbolizing peace, that utilizes reclaimed hand-guns in a positive, optimistic light. Other times it will be in response to a competition, commission or exhibition. Most recently, I designed a large wall-mural, "Fission 999," for a public garage complex. Once I have a theme in mind, I begin brain-storming and drawing. I design in a series of expanding numerous ideas. Then I converge the ideas by critiquing vigorously. Once I have a few feasible directions, I initiate a series of prototypes. Sometimes this process takes a day, sometimes it takes years. Regardless, once I complete a finished design, I attempt to find its flaws. When making the next version, I consider improving on it.

3) Out of the creative people you have worked with, who is it that you respect and admire the most?

I am surrounded by so many mentors and talented colleagues. We often share opportunities and designs. Most of my inspiration has come from the members of the Society of North American Goldsmiths ( Also, I have numerous mentors (and galleries/ institutions/ schools) who have helped lead me along life's path. The individuals include Steve Korpa, Tom Mann, Robert Ebendorf, David Tisdale, Alexander Schaffner, Ralph Düby, Steven Holt, David Revere McFadden and numerous other who have shared generously with me and offered me amazing opportunities to learn and grow. Sadly, I do not often get then opportunity to work with others as my practice is studio-based. My studio manager, Rob Boyd, has done a wonderful job realizing many of my designs and bringing them to life. He is the one person I have had the good fortune to work closely with over the last 5 years. Recently, we were both able to work with the craft community in Derry, North ireland, a project spearheaded by Seliena Coyle. We collaborated on a large public work piece which will be installed in March by Derry's Foyle Bridge (Culture Craft).

4) When looking for inspiration is there a particular thing you do to get inspired?

I look toward urban detritus and cast-offs, the beauty of structural and architectural elements, examples of patina and decay. Growing up in Pittsburgh, PA, I have learned to love rust, rivets and aluminum. My goal is to find materials that people overlook, and create work that brings this material back into focus and back to renewed life.

5) What has brought you to this point in your career? And what is your advice for people looking to follow in your footsteps?

I believe in my '4H principle:' Working with your Hands, your Heart, your Head, and your Hutzpa. To me, this has been the root of my success I've enjoyed. I can't over-emphasize how important it is to be an active part of a community, the need for HARD work and devotion to your field.