Close UPs

Close UPs:

A deeper look at the work and workplaces of some of
the brilliant, creative people who we collaborate with.

Cayla Ferari & John Breznicky BKLZR

Plastered on the wall between arcade games, framed posters, and material samples in a warehouse / showroom / office, at the northern-most tip of Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood, is a laser-cut quote from Massimo Vignelli: "if you do it right, it will last forever." It's the perfect summary for a couple who have made a living together out of tinkering with lasers and making iconic transportation graphics.

After meeting in college in upstate New York, Cayla Ferari and John Breznicky moved to the city to begin working in their respective fields. They had both secured steady 9-to-5's as a graphic designer and engineer respectively but it would only take three years for them to give it all UP and start their own businesses.

Every new couple in a new apartment in a new city has the challenge of figuring out what to put on the walls. Luckily, Cayla had some ideas in mind. She had been drawn to the organized chaos of the NYC subway diagrams and began creating and refining her own version of the infographic. She simplified the routes to their essence as they interwove through the boroughs and created a minimal graphic that was perfectly iconic of their new life together. John took that graphic, made a custom vinyl decal and put it on the wall of their apartment. For most, this is where the story would end, but they took this initial design and created a thriving business that now allows them both to create their own schedules, tinker with projects they're drawn to, and choose the people they want to work with.

What We Enjoy The Most: Is Having A Problem

It was clear that people were interested in Cayla's design and John quickly began thinking of new ways to manufacture products that they could sell. Together in 2011, they designed and created a run of posters, and began setting up a card table on the Highline without a permit. They quickly proved to themselves that they were making products people enjoyed so it wasn't long before they began buying into small craft fairs like the Columbus Circle market. With no shortage of ideas for new products they quickly got addicted and began producing more.

With the help of these craft fairs and some online design shops such as they were able to start growing a name for themselves in other cities.

When they were ready to push forward with their largest run of products, Cayla asked her boss at her small design studio for a short sabbatical. He had also seen the momentum John and Cayla were building so he just laughed politely and said "You're not coming back." He was right, and John shortly followed.

Beyond just selling wonderful products, colleagues at the craft fairs soon began to notice the quality of their custom display systems. With each new product came a new display challenge and which is where John's engineering background kicked in. Their booth was often one of the sharpest and most elaborate at each fair or flea. This showed their ability to take an idea through to completion and allowed them to further their business by providing those skills and knowledge to others.

Today, their businesses are separated by self-driven products and client-driven work. They are able to manufacture hundreds of thousands of pieces for companies like Facebook and SVA, yet still allow themselves time to experiment with friends on new installations, art pieces, and more. Cayla and John not only consult on size, scale, materials, function and form on projects ranging from custom display systems to signage and way-finding, but can also design and fabricate most of the projects in house.

When we first worked with BKLZR we created a short run of gifts for a few clients. Upon the completion of our most thorough project to date, a shared medical practice in which we designed the Architecture, Interior and Brand Design, we had John and Cayla help us create a few final touches. The white acrylic coasters reference the material used in the millwork and signage throughout the space and carry one of the logos that we designed for the practice. (You can see more about the doctors office design HERE.)

After a few fast-paced years of growth, BKLZR has made the conscious decision to limit their expansion. This decision, alongside with being comfortable with the size of the team they've built and the space they work from, has allowed them to be more selective with the projects they take on and devote endless attention to the challenges they approach. It's important to them that they continue to develop a team where everyone has a stake in everything going on - "Getting more people isn't always sustainable."

Rather than expanding their own team, their relationships with others in the neighborhood continues to grow. When they run into elements they can't create, they turn to their neighbors, other smart craftsmen within the building, and often find a perfect, collaborative solution.