Bradford Shellhammer might be best known as the vivacious, colourfully dressed co-founder/former chief design officer of Fab.com, but this week sees him reveal his much-anticipated follow-up project that marks his return to the online design retail game: Bezar.com.
The new site takes its name from the phonetic pronunciation of both bazaar and bizarre, and is what Shellhammer calls 'a market of weird things'; a digital retail platform dedicated to undiscovered design. Armed with a mix of emerging designer names, special collaborations, exclusive creations and collections from iconic brands, Bezar offers an eclectic selection of design-focused wares at decent price points, for a change.
From prints and posters, to textiles, furniture, jewellery, watches and sunglasses, Bezar represents Shellhammer's recharged effort to make good design available to all. 'At Fab, it was actually the assortment of product [that motivated customers] and the fact that we were making design fun and more accessible, and a little more mainstream,' Shellhammer recalled. 'We're pushing the boundaries of what design is - Murray Moss said that. It struck me because I always see Murray as this master curator, but I could never afford anything. That's a healthy dialogue to have within the design community; to talk about affordability and accessibility.'
Shellhammer's exit from Fab.com in November 2013 coincided with the site abandoning a flash sales model for an e-commerce one, leaving the independent designers behind and competing with Amazon instead.
After a year of soul searching, travelling and consulting of various companies, Shellhammer began building up what he felt Fab had left behind. '[Bezar] is a marketplace for special design, modern design. I want it to be a launchpad for emerging designers, I want to be where iconic brands come to launch products that are new or undiscovered.'
To this, Bezar's starting line up kicks off with archival prints from the Albers Foundation, tongue-in-cheek wonders by Toiletpaper for Seletti and new glassware by Tom Dixon. Four new designers will be launched everyday, with each pop-up shop typically lasting about three days. Designers are either unknown, making something new and exclusive for Bezar - as the Josef & Anni Albers limited-run posters are - or simply offering a whimsical selection of their products.
It's a model that both designers and design hounds, such as Yves Behar and Whoopi Goldberg are proud to be associated with. Shellhammer sums it up pretty perfectly: 'If you make more people feel good about design, they make better choices in their life and it's not as intimidating an experience to walk into a designer's showroom and not be able to afford anything. I appreciate all those items, but not everyone is fortunate enough to walk into and buy something from a B&B Italia showroom. But it doesn't mean that they should live with shit.'