To compare furniture to luxury footwear, the new North Fork-based design studio Arma is akin to shoes from the world’s finest fashion houses.
Yes, inexpensive sandals from a discount retailer will cover your feet, but wouldn’t you rather buy artisan-crafted Italian leather loafers on Fifth Avenue that hold up forever? Arma’s high-quality craftsmanship and artful designs are in the same league — and they might change the way you look at furniture.
The partners in the new company are Kristian Iglesias, his life partner Nadira Vlaun and Nick D’Esposito, all of Greenport. Ms. Vlaun brings an art and design background, Mr. D’Esposito a fabrication background and Mr. Iglesias a little of both.
“We’re trying to bridge between art and functionality,” Ms. Vlaun said.
The result is clean and functional design made with carefully selected materials. The pieces could be used in hotels and other commercial spaces, as well as in a private home.
Products in Arma’s inaugural lineup include white powder-coated steel and maple wood light fixtures, a bench topped with glass-reinforced concrete secured with brass clips and a children’s chair made of powder-coated aluminum and furniture-grade ply. Mr. Iglesias and Ms. Vlaun can attest to the durability of the latter as their children, now 10 and 12, have put one to the test over the years.
Although the trio is now involved in every aspect of the process, from concept to construction, they hope at some point to focus solely on the design. Their goal is to hire in-house staff to manufacture the products, freeing up their time to create new prototypes.
“We want to eventually be able to hire — ideally local —talent to oversee the production, [while we] grow the product line,” Mr. Iglesias said.
Ms. Vlaun and Mr. Iglesias met while studying studio art at the University of Florida, in their home state, and over the past two decades have refined their skills on the job. Ms. Vlaun was featured in the Wall Street Journal for designing local wine labels and works as a freelance web designer.
Mr. Iglesias has worked in various fabrication firms, including his own Kai Design Lab, which is where he met Mr. D’Esposito.
Mr. D’Esposito, who has a degree in mechanical engineering, was working for Wooden Boat Works in Greenport when he submitted to Mr. Iglesias an unusually detailed drawing of a throat hook that needed to be made.
Each partner brings a different perspective and skill set to the design process.
“I think it’s a really wonderful process of critique,” Mr. Iglesias said.
“I think it’s our great advantage that we have a background in design and fabrication,” Mr. D’Esposito said. “The design and the prototype process are two separate things.”
That process, however, has taken longer than the trio expected. But they say the time spent will ensure the quality of their products.
“We didn’t want to be just throwing things out there,” Ms. Vlaun said. “We’re not taking shortcuts.”
Expect an official launch for Arma this month. They hope to offer their products in select stores and online through their website. Visit studio-Arma.com and follow @studio.arma for more information.