Architectural Digest – December, 2012


A few weeks before the November 30 premiere of Brad Pitt’s latest film, Killing Them Softly, in which he plays a mob enforcer, the multitalented actor is revealing an entirely different creative side. Pitt is unveiling his first collection of furniture—dynamic tables, elegant chairs, an exotic bed, a minimalist marble bathtub for two—created in collaboration with Frank Pollaro, whose New Jersey–based firm is esteemed for its exquisite reproductions of Art Deco furnishings. Pitt and Pollaro’s partnership was born out of a shared obsession with quality craftsmanship and, it turns out, fine wine. About a dozen Pitt designs will be presented alongside some 45 pieces by Pollaro at a gallery in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, November 13 through 15.

Architectural Digest: Your interest in architecture and furniture design is fairly well known. Are there specific designers or architects whose work has had a particularly significant influence on your designs?

Brad Pitt: I’m drawn to furniture design as complete architecture on a minor scale. When I received my first paycheck from my now known day job, I spent it on a period Craftsman chair and a Frank Lloyd Wright–wannabe lamp. With my second paycheck, I bought a stereo.

AD: How long have you been sketching ideas for furniture, and how did that begin?

BP: The term sketching is crediting me with far too much craft. Let’s say I’ve been doodling ideas for buildings and furniture since the early 1990s, when I first discovered [Charles Rennie] Mackintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright. Actually, I found Wright in college [at the University of Missouri], when looking for a lazy two-point credit to get out of French. It forever changed my life.

I am obsessively bent on quality—to an unhealthy degree. It was this obsession that introduced me to Frank [Pollaro], who embodies the same mad spirit of the craftsmen of yore, with their obsessive attention to detail—not just in the façade, as with a movie set, but even the back of the piece, for that one time you might move it.

AD: The use of a continuous line—which is particularly evident in the bases for some of your tables—is something that can be seen in quite a few of your designs. What is it about an uninterrupted line that is appealing to you?

BP: I can’t wholly articulate it, but it started with my introduction to Mackintosh’s Glasgow rose, which is drawn with one continuous line. But for me there is something more grand at play, as if you could tell the story of one’s life with a single line—from birth to death, with all the bloody triumphs and perceived humiliating losses, even boredoms, along the way. It’s just a story, in the end, of highs and lows. From beginning to end. But a personal story. And of course if you were to connect those ends, it becomes a continuum.

AD: Do you typically start by thinking about form, or do you consider form and materials simultaneously?

BP: For this round, form. Predominantly form. Afterward, we go play in Frank’s museum of materials.

AD: Are you finding yourself increasingly drawn to particular materials—particular types of wood or metal?

BP: Well there’s the obvious luster of [Émile-Jacques] Ruhlmann’s or [Paul] Dupré-Lafon’s exotic woods and hand-lacquered finishes. But as of late I’m drawn to slightly more rustic materials that absorb the light rather than reflect it. I will say, a day in Frank [Pollaro’s] archives always leads to a new idea.

AD: Are you designing pieces you want to live with yourself?

BP: That is how this whole thing began. I sought what I believe to be the best craftsman around to make a few things. No more than that. It just so happens Frank and I speak the same language. And we both have a predilection for far too much wine.

AD: What has been the most satisfying part of the process of creating these pieces?

BP: Seeing the conceptual come to fruition. And by a guy I trust to make the pieces better than the drawings. Understand none of this would be tangible if not for Frank. One day he saw an old design of mine and said he could make something of it. Now I give him any idea, no matter how challenging engineering-wise, and I know if it can be cracked, he will crack it to perfection. There lies great freedom in such a relationship. His obsession trumps my own.

AD: Are you ready to call yourself a furniture designer? Is this something you see yourself doing for years to come?

BP: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.