“Keeping it relevant to the current population is fun and important,” says Jay Novak of the custom-designed Fiberglass armchairs that greet you upon entering the showroom of the Modernica campus. The stark white interior is punched by special edition chairs resulting from collaborations between the classic design of Charles and Ray Eames and contemporaries like The Hundreds, Anti Social Social Club and Takashi Murakami, all of which are produced by Modernica. One look at the bright pink exterior paint job from a previous event with Anti Social Social club and you’ll understand the collaborative spirit is alive and well. For Novak, who co-owns Modernica with his brother Frank, keeping classic designs relevant is good business. Sprawling across several acres and composed of 5 buildings, the Modernica campus is home to 80 employees and houses world-class wood and upholstery workshops, creating original designs and reproductions that utilize original materials and manufacturing methods. The company has more than 80 products that can be customized to order, thanks in large part to a skilled and veteran team of artisans who meticulously build and handcraft each piece.
Started in 1989, Modernica was born from a love of collecting furniture pieces of significant design quality brought upon by the wave of design, post World War II. “There was a renaissance around the world after WWII, but especially in Los Angeles of design that was identifiable to Americans. Not European. And it was like we were free from this war to do all the fabulous ideas we want. We are unrestricted, we have freedom in liberty and in California we have weather that lets us do just about anything we want to do” explains Jay. An ethos that thrives today with the company producing famous reproductions with original practices, in addition to designing and fine tuning Modernica’s own designs, which are very much aligned with Modernist and minimalist expression.
In referencing the current design renaissance in Los Angeles, Jay notes “Our workforce here, from graphics to Internet to woodworking to upholstery, we have a workforce that is brilliantly talented. I don’t know if we could garner this type of talent at many other places in the United States. There is a synergy there. If one woodworker comes to work here, then another wants to work with him. They don’t want to work at a place making particleboard cabinets; they want to be doing craft-work. So there is a synergy that draws.”
Written by Ivan Navarro
Photographed by Eric Cacioppo