Kinetico Studios & Gordon Bradt:
Early Abstract Sculptures
Kinetic Sculpture Clocks
Gordon Bradt & Kinetico Studios
In 1973 Gordon Bradt started his company, Kinetico, Inc. with a product line comprised of his original mechanized kinetic sculptures.
Gordon Bradt, in 1973 at 49 years old, was featured in the Chicago Sun-Times with a headline describing his bold transition from the corporate world into a place none could predict would take him. The headline read:
“Some of us dare to challenge the less-traveled roads in life…”
By Jon Ziomek
By Jon Ziomek
One morning last July, Gordon E. Bradt got up and went to work in his basement instead of the executive offices of Bell & Howell Co. And he’s now a happier man for it.
At 49, Bradt was the highly paid president of Bell & Howell’s audio visual division. But he quit to pursue a hobby full-time: making kinetic sculpture. That’s how he now makes his living.
It sounds simple. But anyone who thinks it’s easy to give up a position as head of a $40 million operation to work in their basement – well, let them try it.
Bradt is succeeding already. He has designed special manufacturing equipment and geared up the basement of his home at 828 Ashland in Wilmette for mass production. His line of seven original, mobile-like sculptures is being sold in Marshall Field and Co., and other stores are expressing an interest in carrying the gift items, which sell for between $25 and $37.
“I went from the world of technical and management into a combination of artistic and entrepreneurial,” said Bradt, a pleasant-mannered man.
Was that much of a lifestyle change?
He smiled. “Oh yes, very much so. I was with Bell & Howell for 23 years. I was very involved with big business and that kind of career.
“But in a large corporation you really don’t have a creative outlet. You don’t directly create. You share the process with others.”
So, when a divisional realignment was organized earlier in the year, Bradt took the opportunity to leave Bell & Howell and try the kinetic sculpture market, a hobby he had gotten into last year. It was not an easy decision.
“But I had always wanted my own business,” he noted. And admittedly, he’s not penniless.
“But I’m not retired; this is no plaything. I have to make a living on this. I’ve set a two year time schedule to have this thing completely done.” Bradt has incorporated, as Kinetico, and he has his wife, daughter and son all helping out. He’d eventually like to hire a few employees, after his big marketing push, which he’s now starting.
So there it is. Bradt can now be found in his basement instead of an office. “It’s quite a risk and it’s hard work,” he said, such as 14 to 16 hour days every day.
But he’s happy. Despite the suddenness of the change last July, “I made the transition just like that,” he said with a smile, snapping his fingers. “The adjustment has just been the easiest thing I’ve ever had. I’m a lot closer to my family.”
Bradt reflected for a moment. “So many people are envious of those who change their life styles. But it took me long enough. I don’t consider myself ultramodern to have waited until the age of 49 to make my move. But it had to be now. And I did it.”
Bradt spends as much as possible of his day on the creative process, doing more designing. He pointed out that “I’ve had a number of hobbies over the year. I’ve designed and built boats, restored an old Maserati I bought in Europe, invented an automatic chord guitar. I’ve done a variety of things like that. I hold about a dozen patents.”
With such a fertile mind, Bradt does not lack for any ideas to execute during his long working day. His only problem is that the managerial work often gets in the way of his creativity.
“I’ve got a lot of things I want to do, besides the kinetic sculptures,” he said, with another of his frequent smiles. “So many things waiting to be developed, so many ideas.” When Gordon Bradt smiles, he really means it, because he has the self-satisfaction of those who dare to try roads others only think of trying. (By Jon Ziomek, Chicago Sun-Times)
More about these sculptures: Watch a 2008 video of Gordon Bradt’s kinetic sculptures, including these early abstract sculptures.