These LA-based interior designers are telling stories through sculpture – with the help of virtual reality headsets

Gavin and Kelley Brodin started Formed For to fill a gap in the market, but their design process is far from conventional

(Image credit: Formed For)

Finding the right sculpture for your space – whether a statement piece placed front and center in the entryway, or a small object to complement a shelf – can elevate your entire design scheme in an instant.

Sculptures come with an allure that dates back thousands of years, adding artistic flair and loads of character to any space. But as times and homes change rapidly, the art of sculpture is tasked with keeping up. Formed For, founded and led by Kelley and Gavin Brodin, is up to the challenge.

Formed For, a bespoke sculpture firm based in Los Angeles, has made decorating with art more innovative than ever. Using virtual reality technology to make sculptures that perfectly complement their environments, Kelley and Gavin are transforming the sculpture market one digital lump of clay at a time.

Homes & Gardens sat down with Kelley and Gavin to hear more about Formed For and using virtual reality in design

A large ceramic sculpture in a dark room

(Image credit: Formed For)

For Kelley and Gavin, a meet-cute at Burning Man changed everything. Kelley was tasked with creating a sculpture for the desert festival’s iconic landscape of art installations. But when her general contractor quit, Gavin – a high-end interior designer at the time – came in. After creating their first sculpture together, called “Fractal,” the two were off and running, returning to Burning Man the next year. Soon, Covid-19 hit and shut the festival down for two years.

It was then that Kelley and Gavin decided that their work on the Black Rock Desert was just the beginning. ‘We have the same aesthetic in what we like to create, but also the meaning and intention behind what we create was also very aligned,’ says Kelley. ‘We were like, “We love each other, and we want to work together.”’

Combining Gavin’s interior design expertise with Kelley’s eye for the arts made some parts of the sculpture design process simple, but the pair kept running into the same problem – they were never able to find exactly what they were looking for. Whether the pieces didn’t fit with the project aesthetic, the meaning didn’t quite match up, they were a bit too expensive, or they were simply too hard to track down, the process of finding art to style was near impossible.

‘It’s such a huge missing mark, not just in high-end design, but in most design,’ says Gavin. ‘It was a never-ending battle of never finding sculptures, worldwide.’

A brass circular sculpture in the front yard of a modern house

(Image credit: Formed For)

Ultimately, this frustration led Gavin and Kelley to think outside the box, and they started experimenting with Gravity Sketch – a 3D, virtual reality design software that their children discovered on their Oculus headset.

The technology allows them both to step into a virtual reality at the same time, and physically manipulate a digital (yet larger-than-life) lump of clay. With the ability to shrink the clay down very small, or blow it up to be incredibly large, the two can manipulate details that would otherwise be impossible to access. Once the sculpture is complete, the 3D model can be exported, in file form, and sent off directly to a manufacturer to be made in any material of the maker’s choosing.

The software is new, and Kelley says there’s quite a ‘steep learning curve to it.’ But getting ahead of that learning curve early on has made the couple – and their company, Formed For – one of a kind.

‘I think we're super unique at doing what we're doing. We're not really like CAD experts coming up with a 3D rendering based on a CAD form – it's definitely working with your hands and starting from the beginning instead of drawing,’ says Gavin.

With this new, unconventional method under their belt, Gavin and Kelley started to create sculpture designs, with a goal of finalizing 50 before launching their business. After four years, the 50 designs were done, and they began to return to past design clients with their portfolio in stow. Gavin says the response was more than encouraging.

‘All our old clients bought these great sculptures for spaces we designed going back 15 years,’ he says. ‘And we launched our range in January this year. It's been an unbelievable success of responses from all the design trade.'

A shiny metal sculpture in a large modern living room

(Image credit: Formed For)

Formed For offers a range of customizable sculptures that clients can browse online, but Gavin and Kelley also create bespoke, one-of-a-kind pieces for specific projects and spaces. A large part of their mission is to create pieces that work perfectly within their environments, and sometimes a fully tailored approach is the only way to go.

‘When you have a specific place in the house that you're looking for, you go out to galleries and you're looking obviously at these very expensive pieces – but none of them really suit the space. It's like finding a needle in a haystack,’ says Kelley. ‘It's not only fine art, but it's also going to completely complement and enhance the space – not only aesthetically, but also with the meaning and the intention that they're made with.’

Each piece within Formed For’s library has a meaning, or story, attached to it – this background is an important part of Kelley and Gavin’s process. From meeting their clients to installing the sculpture, emotion and story is integral.

‘Blending the story that they want to tell and the feelings they want the sculpture to create within their home, along with their life experience and story, is usually what creates a beautiful piece of art that's really special to them and that they’re gonna cherish forever,’ says Kelley.

A sculptural, textured full-wall fireplace in a modern living room

(Image credit: Formed For)

The pair have created a wide range of meaningful sculptures already, matching material and form to their clients’ homes. In one recent project, Formed For produced a ‘beautiful, twisting bronze sculpture’ with three spindles for a client in Beverly Hills – each spindle represents one of the client’s children, and the sculpture depicts their life together.

In another, the storytelling was a bit more focused on the aesthetics. A client was looking for a sculpture to fit atop a preexisting pedestal, and nothing from Formed For’s library matched up perfectly.

‘We actually didn't have one that works for that pedestal – it needed to be two feet by two feet. But they have a water feature in the same vicinity, and they want the two sculptures to tie in with the story. So, that's the perfect case where, as many as we have, none worked. We've come up with this unique, freeform, stone sculpture that fits on the pedestal, and we have another one that complements it,’ says Gavin.

Aesthetics and storytelling are undoubtedly important parts of the sculpture craft, but quality is also front of mind for Gavin and Kelley when creating these pieces. ‘We have material quality that no other fabricators or artists have in terms of the sculpture,’ says Kelley. Formed For only uses the highest grade of stainless steel available, and Gavin says his ‘complete perfectionist’ mindset means that no project leaves without a ‘proper polished finish.’

A white textural sculpture in a modern, minimalist room

(Image credit: Formed For)

Working with fabricators across the world, Kelley says she and Gavin have taken quite a bit of time to track down people who will ensure Formed For’s quality remains top-tier. But the responsibility that Formed For takes on doesn’t end there. Sculptures are often left until last when it comes to interior design, and nobody’s keen to take responsibility for their selection and install, says Gavin.

Between contractors, landscape architects, and interior designers, it’s often unclear who’s responsible for sculptures, and it’s difficult to find someone with true expertise. That’s where Formed For comes in. ‘We’re taking the headache off everybody,’ says Gavin. ‘We take on everything to make sure we deliver that sculpture and get it installed how it’s supposed to be installed, which is a pretty big responsibility.'

Gavin and Kelley agree that going forward, interior design should incorporate more sculpture: ‘I think every home needs to have sculptures, whether small, medium, or large. It's such an important thing. It's a moment. For us, it's like a moment to take a breath and reflect emotion. And it’s always a conversation piece,’ says Gavin.

‘Art brings a lot of meaning and spirit into a house, and then when you take it to sculpture in a 3D form, that's even more experiential and interactive. It helps bring the feelings of peacefulness and connection, all those things, into your home, makes it more of a home and gives it more meaning. I think that's what's really special about art,’ adds Kelley.

Abby Wilson
Interior Design News Editor

I am an Interior Design News Editor at Homes & Gardens. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.