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Willard Ford's downtown L.A. design space gets a major overhaul

June 22, 2009 |  1:32 pm

Ford Willard Ford, the son of actor Harrison Ford, is taking his downtown L.A. design space in a more professional and sales-oriented direction, but he says the goal is to remain young, innovative and uber-hip.

Launched four years ago as FordBrady, the company operated a sleek showroom out of a converted Chinese movie palace called the Kim Sing Theatre. The emphasis was on modern woodwork and furniture by up and coming designers. The showroom also became a party scene where architects, artists and designers would gather and mingle at the company's ultra-cool soirees.

As our friends at Curbed LA first reported, Ford and his partner John Brady announced that they have decided to part ways. Andrea Ching will replace Brady at the company, which is being re-christened Ford & Ching.

Ford told Culture Monster today that the split with Brady was amicable: "John and I worked...

... together since 2005 and we were old friends. John wanted to be move on to design-oriented work. We're still friends -- he's sitting 5 feet from me as I talk, and he'll still contribute to the company."

The sales side of FordBrady was something that lacked organizational commitment, according to Ford. "We made mistakes, and that we survived is a minor miracle," he said. The sub-million-dollar company currently has five employees and plans to open an Oakland sales office within the next month.

Ford said he hopes to further blur the line between the trade side and retail side of interior design. Ford & Ching is signing up a handful of new designers including Skram Furniture, Ernsdorf Designs, Pad and Samuel Moyer.

Ching (who has known Ford since high school) will act as the sales arm of the company, conducting presentations around the country. The company's big relaunch is this Saturday -- a reception at the theater will be followed by a panel discussion about the recession and how that is affecting the business. The event is being co-presented by Dwell on Design and Vice magazine.

Of course, no conversation with Ford would be complete without bringing up his famous father, who worked as a carpenter before hitting it big as an actor. "My dad has an exacting sense of how to do things -- he's sort of a perfectionist and I can appreciate designers who have that trait," said the younger Ford.

-- David Ng

Photo: Willard Ford. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times