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Brad Pitt-inspired pieces boost business

Last November, Frank Pollaro of Pollaro Custom Furniture in Union, N.J., hosted a private exhibition in New York City where he proudly unveiled 12 new pieces designed by actor Brad Pitt.

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“It was exciting. I think the public took the work seriously. They treated it with respect. And the overall feedback I got was all positive,” says Pollaro, adding that several of the pieces in the collection have already been sold and are being displayed with the owners’ consent.

Contemporary in nature, the line includes a bed, two dining tables, three cocktail tables, two club chairs, an integrated shelf unit, a stone bathtub and a decorative wall installation. Each limited-edition piece took six months to create and all are numbered and signed by Pitt and Pollaro.

Founded in 1988, Pollaro Custom Furniture designs and manufactures custom furniture, cabinetry and architectural woodwork for clients that include architects, interior designers and homeowners. Pollaro has an international clientele and numerous high profile clients, 20 of whom are on the Forbes 400 list, he says.

Dealings with Pitt began in 2008, when the actor commissioned a custom desk through an interior designer in Los Angeles. Pollaro delivered the desk to Pitt’s chateau in the South of France. During the installation, Pollaro noticed a design sketchbook filled with hundreds of furniture sketches that Pitt had created during a 10-year period. Pitt revealed that he had a common passion for furniture and design and Pollaro encouraged him to transform his drawings into reality.

“I’ve always known that [Brad] was into design. He has a very high public image when it comes to design. It wasn’t surprising to me. He views furniture as complete architecture on a miniature scale. He told me that he’s been interested in furniture design since he was young and that he’s been sketching furniture for years.”

Frank Pollaro, owner of Pollaro Custom Furniture in Union, N.J., has a business arrangement with Brad Pitt building furniture designed by the actor.

Pollaro invited Pitt to his shop and the two began discussing ways to bring the designs forward. In a four-year period, prototypes were created, revised and re-created until Pitt was satisfied with every detail and Pollaro was confident of the comfort and structural integrity of each piece.

“[Brad’s] very serious about it. He’s very devoted. We have spent hundreds of hours together and that’s no exaggeration. Hundreds of hours, typically at his chateau in France, and we will have marathon meetings typically for 10, 12, 14 hours at a time and we will meet for three or four consecutive days.”

The line has already brought a lot of visibility to Pollaro’s business and a number of large orders have been placed. The company’s backlog is generally about a year. Pollaro has a 36-month expansion plan in the works that will triple the size of his current operation.

“The plans are to keep releasing new pieces according to Brad’s schedule. Obviously this is not his day job; he’s an actor. But we spend a lot of time together, and I imagine there’s going to be several pieces per year, at least.”

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This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue.

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