Comollo Antiques, Fine Art & Wine

Manchester Vermont

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We have a 7 day unconditional, no ifs, ands or buts, satisfaction guaranteed policy. If after receiving a piece it doesn't work, send it back for a complete refund, just let us know within 7 days . We also have an unconditional exchange policy, regardless of how long you've had an item, we will apply 100% of the purchase price of any piece towards an upgrade or exchange, or if you like we'll take it back and give you a 100% store credit. I don't think we could make it any easier!

Info about - Mongiardo

 

Here is a slightly edited version of Jenny Wonderling's article About Nick Mongiardo

The Secret Designs
of Nick Mongiardo

By Jenny Wonderling

Nick Mongiardo has designed and built furniture for Giorgio Armani, Yoko Ono, Calvin Klein, Michael Chow and Jann Wenner, among others. Keith Barrish of Planet Hollywood says he is one of the best kept secrets in the industry. After three decades of restoring, creating and executing some of the most noted designs of the century, Mongiardo's name is known only to an elite circle of high end fashion designers, architects, restaurateurs and the like. Furniture he built for clients like Calvin Klein and Donna Karan has appeared in numerous publications. The Spoon Chair (for Donna Karan) in particular has been featured in at least eight magazines . Nick says "To maintain the quality that we need, which I won't compromise, we can't afford to sell wholesale anymore."

Nick Mongiardo Table - This piece uses bent recycled ivory inlay techniques not seen since 1925, on a table made of macassar ebony and amaranth veneer.


In the past, Mongiardo sold his pieces to designers, and through stores like Wyeth in New York.
When Calvin Tsao, the esteemed designer of the Wheatleigh Hotel in Lenox and architect of Tsao & McKaan, finally tracked down the creator of the furniture he had admired for so long he commissioned him to do pieces for the hotel.
Matt Nye of Matt Nye Inc., a New York based designer who collaborated with Mongiardo on Jann Wenner's (Rolling Stone magazine) mansion, says, Nick really participates in the process of design, there's a dialogue. He's an amazing craftsman. He does every piece by hand, and so can only work on a small scale. When you start mass producing, the work loses its fine quality, the thing that made it so special.


Nick Mongiardo, his eldest son Taj and four full time assistants also specialize in the restoration of early twentieth century French furniture and accessories, namely those of esteemed designers Jean Dunand, Emile Jacques Ruhlmann, Pierre Chareau, Jean Michel Frank, Joseph Urban, Armand Albert Rateau and Eileen Gray. Like his predecessors, Mongiardo has developed his expertise in the varied arts of woodwork, metalwork, lacquer, eggshell inlay and more. Throughout a career that spans thirty four years, he has restored hundreds of extraordinary objects. Bernard Dunand said about his father, in his hands, craftsmanship became an art. The quote also describes Mongiardo. His personal works, however, while often an allusion to earlier masters, are not limited by those traditions. His expansive studio, like his home, reveals the sleek finishes and classic designs reminiscent of Ruhlmann and Chareau juxtaposed against others that are strikingly modern. There are also the elegant yet primitive designs, such as those executed for Donna Karan. It is Nick's craftsmanship that has helped make the minimal Asian aesthetic of her home decor almost as well known as her clothes. Keith Barrish, the New York based financier and producer, says,"He's the greatest furniture maker working today and a true artist."

Nick Mongiardo Sofa of only the finest materials, hand carved solid macassar ebonized arm rail and Dualoy leather.

Mongiardo expresses disdain for the assumption that an artist's style should be homogeneous. He says wryly, "I hate those art shows where everything looks the same". The unlikely contrast of designs reveals Mongiardo's prolific diversity of skill and his broad definitions of beauty. Sensuality and elegance seem to be the unifying factors in all his objects whether decorative screens, chairs, tables, frames, mirrors, jewelry, or lighting fixtures. The reflective qualities of his finishes are made up of a deep layering of colors, blacks over reds, rich browns over yellows. With lacquers, you are actually looking in to look out, he explains. There is a reverberation of color. Run your hand over one of his finishes and you might imagine the taut skin of an athlete. The frames on one work table are clearly African inspired, revealing patterns that resemble the scarification of young warriors. The percentage of great things being made is less than years ago, Mongiardo explains. "It's a disposable world, it's depressing, and that's why we do what we do. I'll die doing what I'm doing but I am not going to build with less quality. We build things for eternity". Jerry Moss, cofounder of A&M and Rounder Records, has been acquiring Mongiardo s pieces for thirty years. "I think Nick's brilliant", he says." He's also fun to work with because he has such an interesting sense of design and joie de vivre."

Nick Mongiardo's Ruhlmann inspired Gonse Chair The chair floats effortlessly on three points of balance.

Concerning his greatest design influences, namely the early twentieth century French, Mongiardo says, The pieces themselves have personalities of their own. They are just like people, some are pleasant, some are suicidal, we've even had pieces that almost jump off the table. And that's your signature. That's when you become known. He explains that the twentieth century masters made everything from hinges to locks by hand and that it was their imperfections that created the uniqueness of the finished piece. Mongiardo calls those blemishes consistent inconsistencies, and that is what you lose when manufacturing becomes mechanized, mass produced. When all those consistent inconsistencies are put into one, it works. I've seen pieces by other people and they are lacking what I consider that major ingredient "The mystery", he says reflectively " I always thought the furniture should have a travelogue book to accompany them through time."

   

Nick Mongiardo's Ethereal 24 Karat Gold Leafed Folding Screen, a shimmering portal to distant lands


When asked where he thought his sense of aesthetics comes Mongiardo can quickly recall the various influences that set his path. I lived by the Brooklyn Museum, so I would go there all the time, see things. Eventually his interest turned to antiques and importing furniture from Europe. After restoring and furnishing a Victorian townhouse he was awakened to the clean lines and smooth surfaces of Deco. In 1974, a bedroom suite he had restored for Alan Moss, one of the most knowledgeable dealers in the design industry, was exhibited at the Radio City Deco Show. It commanded so much attention that it secured his career as an expert restorer of Deco furniture. Extensive research into the period led him to his first experiments with eggshell inlay and lacquer in his own designs. The artist's pains to achieve the finished product of this ancient technique can be quickly overlooked. A mere square foot of the labour intensive process of eggshell inlay requires approximately eighty hours to create. His own furniture designs, utilizing these techniques, became a passion and was soon exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt Museum (1977), and collected by the likes of Yoko Ono and John Lennon, Jann Wenner and gallery owner Lillian Nassau.

Mongiardo Planter Japanese lantern inspired goat skin and bronze planter.

Twenty five years ago, Michael Chow, the esteemed restaurateur, designer, artist and art collector first met Nick and describes Mongiardo as the best of his craft, the Rolls-Royce of what he does. His work is so moving, so very beautiful. In America he's certainly the best, yet he s not adequately appreciated. When asked why, he says, First of all, you just don't have many clients that require such a high standard in this day and age. In the last sixty years, the whole world has homogenized and does not respect craftsmanship. In the land of protected mediocrity, which is addictive even if you re offered something great, people crave mediocrity. It all comes down to economics. Nick is a dying breed. Mongiardo is equally complimentary about Chow. Meeting the Chows and working with them has been so inspirational. They have such a finite eye and it turned me on to another level of vision. He's a genius, the best when it comes to design. After numerous restorations and collaborations with Chow, they teamed up again when they designed and built the Armani store in Las Vegas. Working closely, they spent the better part of a year executing gold-leafed display cases and the famed Chow Eggs. The breaking point, though, was Chow's design for a leather lined clothing cabinet decorated with mother-of-pearl lacquer, sandblasted glass, sliding glass doors, lit floor to ceiling, complete with a thirty four foot aeroplane wing and surfboards to boot, the entire structure listed in opposite directions. Nick said, The Armani-Las Vegas project did it. Fried me. I never want to work like that again. The combination of underbidding, lack of appreciation for the work and the stress of deadlines became the catalyst, ultimately limiting the amount of commercial work he would accept in the future.

Chareau Style Table Lamp t Mongiardo celebrates the luminous style of Pierre Chareau with this lamp constructed from mahogany and bronze with alabaster shades.
Rather than be torn between the contradictory pulls of art and commerce, Mongiardo has sought to achieve more balance in his personal life. At his home, impromptu dinners flourish. There is music, laughter and lots of wine. Young children dodge priceless furniture and decorative screens. I ask Nick how he can have the much sought-after furniture of Chareau, Dunand, and Frank along with hand painted velvet pillows and exquisite vases in a house with two boys and their young friends. Traces of Mongiardo's upbringing seep out of every sentence. Words are punched out in Brooklynese, with curses and hand gestures added for emphasis in case you missed something, which is impossible. Because their lives are more important than the surfaces, Mongiardo says. I remember when my eldest son, Taj, [now twenty seven] was little. I once flipped out because he put a lunch box on a table and then I realized what I was doing. I decided then that I would never allow things to dictate the discipline of my children. It's all fixable, but people are much harder to fix than chairs and tables.


Mongiardo Z Lamp t playfully hammered steel and alabaster.

Candles cast their glow and Nick's face transforms as he speaks. Around him sit a chef, a book publisher, a writer, a sculptor, one photographer, his son Taj, and Lydia, his radiant wife. Between bites of homemade lasagna and mesclun salad, we are mesmerised, suspended, often convulsed with laughter. 
Mongiardo begins again: A few years ago I got a call from a gallery owner. This woman was designing a hotel and wanted a bid on a similar mural to one we executed for Sigourney Weaver's character's apartment in the film Copy Cat. Mongiardo s voice for now takes on the cadence of an older woman. I had to call all over the world for your number! All the best people in Hollywood seem to know your work but no one would give up any information on how to find you! I finally got in touch with Jim Clay in London who couldn't recommend you enough! No longer labouring in obscurity and getting the recognition he has long deserved. Mongiardo has been phenomenally successful, with international clients responding to the unparalleled quality of his work. Content to have finally struck a better balance between work and family, he can appreciate the fruit of his labours in a way he never had time to in the past. Mongiardo's eyes grazes the objects around us and says,'You know these are the heirlooms of the future. Like Damion Pedutto says, You're creating something that will never be disposed of, or should never be.

 

comollo antiques & fine wine - 4686 Main Street on Route 7A - Manchester Center Vermont - 05255