Meet the Man Who Makes One-off Furniture Pieces For Movie Stars and Billionaires

Meet the Man Who Makes One-off Furniture Pieces For Movie Stars and Billionaires

“My clientele have been all over the place, carried out everything,” Frank Pollaro claims, holding open a curtain in his hangarlike New Jersey workshop, “but no just one has observed something like the Lignum Theatrum.”

Banks of expert theater lights click on on as he measures into the soaring, blackened room, illuminating ghostly white columns of maple burls like male-height coral spires, and massive cross-sections of historical trees hung on the partitions, impossibly figured with wavelike amber ripples and ruddy sunbursts. On one particular wall is a a single-ton bubinga slab, patterned like a roiling, cosmic cloud and a tabletop from a single, 800-year-aged redwood slab that appears to be included in folds of golden-crimson satin.

Pollaro is a high-artisan household furniture crafter to the stars. His Lignum Theatrum—“theater of wood”—showcases “a massive aspect of our information: The piece is elevated by the material.”

Then will come the craftsmanship section of the equation. “Our consumers are individuals who can manage to have nearly anything in the planet,” he says. “For them, luxurious is one thing handmade for you, particularly what you want it to be, exactly the way you want it to healthy. It is not a pc pumping out elements, or a operate of 100 of just about anything.”

Pollaro’s Sunlight Desk, produced from rare okoume wooden.

Courtesy of Pollaro

Pollaro Custom made Furniture’s 35-worker studio will take on 6 to eight commissions a calendar year for word-of-mouth customers like David Geffen, Michael Dell, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Robert De Niro, Jerry Seinfeld, George Lucas, and Steven A. Cohen. Pollaro has crafted the furnishings for some of the greatest superyachts constructed in the past 15 a long time, beginning with 96 items for Larry Ellison’s Musashi.

He’s furnished three residences for Brad Pitt, who also co-types a home furniture line with him. In 2015, he branched out to make the $2.4 million Fibonacci Piano for Steinway, and has now upped the ante to make his self-explained masterpiece: a $10 million Bösendorfer piano that, on a recent take a look at, was established aside in a location-lit, theatrical house deep in the workshop complex.

The piano, termed “Moonlight,” is a stunner, its silky, lacquered black scenario picked out with “moon-beams” of copper-nickel alloy and established off with shiny orange-blonde narra wooden. An summary homage to both of those the Viennese Secession artwork motion and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, the piano situation and pedestal absorbed 9,000 male-several hours of minutely in-depth hand labor and buckets of Pollaro’s very own income.

It is an extreme passion challenge produced, Pollaro suggests, so that his youthful youngsters could have “a mental snapshot of a point in time when their dad was the best in the globe at one thing.”

Frank Pollaro doing the job in the studio.

Courtesy of Pollaro

Shell out some time with Pollaro and this obsessive undertaking starts to seem almost sensible, if not inevitable. You can, in point, trace an arrow-straight by way of-line from the teenager who turned his 1st buck milling custom billy clubs for his hometown police pressure to the hyperfocused 55-calendar year-aged crafter of the $10 million piano. Pollaro is a man who bought knocked head in excess of heels in a junior significant store course by the gorgeousness of the school’s wooden selection, and in no way appeared back.

A long time on, he has assembled a assortment of his own—okoume and bubinga and cocobolo and camphor burl—$5 million to $7 million well worth of lumber by Pollaro’s estimate, all-natural woods so alive with figuring they are practically kinetic, showy with starbursts and satiny, lapping folds and radiating shade.

Pollaro scouts the world, buying, he estimates, perhaps a single in 400 logs he is provided, all qualified sustainable and grievance with the U.S. Lacey Act, an antitrafficking law.

A residential job by Pollaro.

Courtesy of Pollaro

When he spots a gem, his method is 35 a long time time-tested: “We make a conclusion speedy, we spend quick, and we pay the question. No negotiation.”

The conclude charge of a Pollaro piece—which may possibly commence at around $12,000 for a eating home chair—is only 10% the wooden by itself and 90% the labor. But every thing begins with people unique logs, which could wait several years in his workshop for the suitable shopper.

“Our differentiator,” he clarifies, “is that a client can set their finger on the precise log that’s heading to develop into their furnishings. Inform a common woodworker ‘I’d like a desk produced out of ebony,’ and he’ll contact up his supplier and you will get whichever is in the pipeline. His consumer is not going to have 250 logs to pick from and another 200 logs of reliable wooden, sequence-reduce lumber.”

“‘Sequence cut’ usually means that we lower a whole log into workable parts and restack it back again into its original sort,” he clarifies. “That assures that a chair is likely to appear out of a single board, or a established of chairs out of one particular tree. It is the most costly way to go, but it makes a continuity in colour and grain you can’t have any other way.”

Polaro adds, “This is not meant for every person, or some thing all people even understands. And I’m not here to transform the inconvertible I don’t even test. Most of our clients discover us by means of older prospects who know that we are accomplishing something specific below and discover this form of pondering vital.”

Pollaro’s “Moonlight” Bosendorfer piano.

Courtesy of Pollaro

Even now, even Pollaro will acknowledge that “this variety of thinking”—carrying 450 exotic logs in inventory, or making $10 million pianos on spec, or holding 15 laying hens on the premises to present eggshells for lacquer—might strike some men and women as a little bit in excess of-the-prime.

“These are definitely acts of insanity,” he admits. He is wandering together the steel racks in his utilitarian, concrete-floored workshop, the air scented with faraway, jungly notes of wooden spice.

As Exhibit A of the insanity, Pollaro picks up a 10-inch-substantial sheaf of wafer-slim royal ebony veneer. This drab minimal stack fees $30,000, he says.

Then he wields his plastic squirt bottle. A spray of denatured alcohol and a wipe with a rag opens a quick window into the soul of the ebony, revealing surreal, connected rectangular rings in the grain, black on blonde, that seem to study like hieroglyphs or possibly a information from an interplanetary visitation.

Pollaro stares a moment at the revelation in the wood grain and muses, primarily to himself, “If I see that? I’m just gonna invest in it.”

This short article appears in the March 2023 situation of Penta journal.