ModFire: Art and function at their best

"It all started from a sketch," says Brandon Williams, explaining how his current project, ModFire , came about. "My wife asked me to make something for the backyard that we could roast marshmallows with."

Until ModFire started in November 2010, Brandon was primarily doing custom steelwork for furniture and homes with Stel Objekt , so this was not a departure from the norm for him.

After he built the first ModFire, a cone-shaped piece about 4 feet tall, with two dramatic oval-esque openings, everyone fell in love with it.

They now ship all over the country and are even featured in the show "Up All Night" on NBC.

But that's not the interesting story here. Commendable, but not surprising, given the great design and production.

No, the fascinating part of this story is that to stay in love with the product, Brandon has decided to continue making ModFire by hand, with steel, one by one in his downtown Phoenix metalshop with his friend, David Dorn.

"The reason why I got involved with this is, (a) our friendship, but (b) the design," says Dorn, who travels back and forth from California to help with the project. "To make something that speaks to people at such a broad range, how many people get to do that?"

For both of these men, who, for the record, with their skills in welding and working with steel, could easily have high-paying union gigs, art plays a major role in their life.

"If I'm not doing something that, at the end of the day, really satisfies my artistic endeavor or my artistic nature……..it's just not worth it.

Every ModFire is produced by hand in Phoenix, Arizona, by people who live in Phoenix, Arizona. You can get one here .

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