Since its inception, Sun Valley Bronze has been characterized by being an innovative and dynamic business with a relentless quality-centric product strategy.
The company’s style and design language has continuously evolved over the past two decades to create a leading American-made brand. Sun Valley Bronze’s design studio and manufacturing facility are creative powerhouses, blending time-honored, handcrafted practices with cutting-edge technology. “When the company first started, every pattern was created by hand,” shares Sun Valley Bronze Founder Bob Commons. “Today, we use more state-of-the-art processes, such as 3-D modeling, CNC milling and 3-D printing. These processes are used from design concept throughout manufacturing.” The evolution of an idea to a tangible, beautiful object begins with a sketch. Technology brings the drawing into brilliant, living color with 3-D modeling software. It is then sent to the CNC milling machine to create a prototype, or one of Sun Valley Bronze’s skilled artisans will create a pattern by hand. “Prototypes are field checked for functionality and how the user interacts with the piece,” Commons says. “Fine-tuning of the design generally happens by hand.” An amalgam of human artistry and technological feats, the Sun Valley Bronze brand has become synonymous with beautiful design made to the highest of standards.
Q+A WITH SUN VALLEY BRONZE FOUNDERS BOB AND DEBBIE COMMONS
How do you choose your materials? What comes first—the materials or design concept?
Materials are always integral to the design process. We work primarily in art-grade silicon and white bronze. Our products are sandcast, which creates a beautiful, authentic and subtle texture on the surface of the material.
What are your influences when conceiving a piece of work?
The majority of our custom work is driven by architects and designers who want a specific architectural detail to be carried throughout a project. Outside of custom work, our designs are driven by material, ergonomics and process.
Have your practices changed to keep up with new technologies?
Absolutely. When Sun Valley Bronze first started 20 years ago, all patterns were made in a woodshop by hand. Today, we use 3-D modeling software and CNC milling machines. We also collaborate with Boise State University to realize some of our more complicated designs with 3-D printing technology.
1. Molten bronze pours from the crucible at the foundry. 2. After matching, cabinet knobs are lined up for finishing.