SDS 2019: "Luxury" overused in design industry, says Frank Pollaro
by Miranda Blazeby
Custom furniture designer Frank Pollaro has spoken about his efforts to preserve the true meaning of luxury through craftsmanship and claimed the term has become overused in the industry.
Speaking at the Superyacht Design Symposium, Pollaro reflected on his life’s work, from his first experiences at his school’s wood workshop, to forming Pitt-Pollaro, a furniture collaboration with Hollywood actor Brad Pitt.
Pollaro, who now employs 45 craftsmen at his New Jersey wood shop, revealed special materials, hand craftsmanship and ultimate quality are of the utmost importance in his working practices. Only by placing these commitments at the centre of his work can he claim his pieces are true luxury, he said.
“To me, the word luxury is thrown around very lightly these days. Everyone is saying they’re luxury - I don’t believe that,” he said. “Something that is made by hand in a perfect way is what my company does, and I think that is what luxury is.”
He revealed he had invested more than $100,000 and six months building traditional Austro-Hungarian work benches for his craftsmen. “I want them to come to the table and for it to be an altar,” he said. “I want the craftsman’s hands to do the work. I believe that’s what makes a piece special, that’s what transforms it into art.” Contrastingly, he labelled laser-cut carpentry “soulless”. “I don’t like it,” he said. “It lacks soul when it’s done by a computer.”
Pollaro’s dedication to his craft has seen him build up a stock of over 600 logs worth millions of dollars at his workshop. “I live in a very modest house because I’ve got millions of dollars in this wood collection,” he said.
Pollaro also spoke about his design partnership with Brad Pitt, Pitt-Pollaro, which was established after a chance meeting with Pitt in 2008. The collaboration is absolutely authentic, Pollaro said, with Pitt designing and selling pieces that are entirely his own. “It’s not a licensing situation where I pay for his name and we design it. He does the design, he pays for the research and design and when we sell them, we divide the profit.” He also revealed that the pair are currently working on “eight to nine pieces” which they hope to release later this year.