Josh Bach can't turn around in New York City without seeing something that inspires him. He also can't walk a block from his New York City apartment without seeing somebody sporting a necktie.
Stands to reason, then, the designer of witty but classy ties is in the right spot. Bach, who studied architecture at University of Pennsylvania before becoming a bartender-turned-advertising art director, lives in New York's Financial District, where the blur of ties in the morning and evening and almost every other time of day constantly reminds him that people need to lighten up-but do it with style.
"One day I looked down and realized neckties are like blank canvases," said Bach, who was a rare tie-wearing creative at his advertising agency. "The original concept was to do witty and whimsical ties that are wearable." Like the one he conjured using design sketches of now-demolished baseball parks. Or the one that spits out stock quotes from neck to belt. Or, the necktie that's as useful for navigation as it is for fashion: the NYC subway map tie.
"New York is the most dynamic place. It's so saturated with images that aren't anywhere else," he says, recalling his first design, based on a poster he took down from 32nd Street. You can't turn around without seeing something inspiring. There's always an interesting graphic or image or drawing or sign. It's unending."
Bach doesn't just live in the midst of a sea of ties; both his office and apartment are a quick walk from the World Trade Center. From his apartment, Bach heard the commotion following the attack and went to his roof as the events unfolded. He saw images on Sept. 11 he'll never forget, but not ones that are stronger than scenes he's already got of the city, or pictures he's seen since. "New York is an amazing place in the face of tragedies," he says. "The city always comes together. And it's always reinventing itself."