Frank Pollaro’s Furniture Might Be in Good Taste, but it’s “Tasteless.”

 

So says Sal, Pollaro’s Yorkshire terrier, who is one of the few authorities on the subject. Having sampled the base of Pollaro’s conference table and found it lacking, he now prefers a good rawhide bone.

This is probably for the best, since Sal sleeps happily in a doggy bed designed and built by Pollaro, who would be sorry to see it eaten.   Crafted from Brazilian rosewood and inlaid with faux ivory in the Art Deco style of furniture designer Jaques Emile Ruhlmann, the bed is now available to other dogs as well, at a price of $8,500  (fabric not included).

Mr. Pollaro originally scribbled the design for the bed on a piece of scrap paper, but several months later a meeting with some potential clients prompted him to go further.  “I saw that they were very into their dog, and I said, ‘You know this would be a good time to display a dog bed,'” he explains.  Mr. Pollaro left the office and built the bed himself, and interior designer Harry Schnaper provided the fabric. The potential clients, says Pollaro, were impressed.

This is not the only influence Sal, aged 1, has had on Mr. Pollaro’s furniture business, which boasts clients ranging from David Geffen to Tiffany & Co.   Early on, Sal showed a keen awareness as to who the big players were.  Mr. Pollaro recounts bringing this up in basic obedience class: “I said, ‘My dog doesn’t bark when I’m on the phone with friends or my mother.  He snaps when I get on the phone with the most important clients.  It seems like the higher dollar values that we’re talking about on the phone the more he barks.'”  Sal has since learned a lot, Mr. Pollaro says.  Nevertheless, Sal still displays a knack for sensing wealthy callers. During a phone interview with a reporter from Animal Fair, for instance, he remained notably silent!

Mr. Pollaro has known he wanted to do woodwork since he was a little boy, but his course was truly set in high school when he came across a photograph of a Ruhlmann piece on the cover of Fine Woodworking magazine. “The thing just struck a chord with me,” he recalls. “I said, ‘This is what I want.  This is what I want to make.'”  In 1988, he founded Pollaro Custom Furniture, which now has some twenty employees and has completed over 400 projects. Don’t let his age fool you.  The 30-something produces exquisite pieces of furniture, maintaining standards so exact, they are almost indistinguishable from those by Ruhlmann.  He has the soul of the Art Deco master.

While Mr. Pollaro is happy with his success, he is most pleased with his five-pound business partner: “He just looks you in the eye, and he’s very intelligent…He’s my best friend.”

Frank Pollaro’s work can be viewed on www.pollaro.com, and Sal’s bed (and Sal) can be seen on the websites www.customdoggybeds.com and www.doggybed.com.

– Tom Frank

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