It’s so nice to see House Beautiful celebrating the beauties of wood in its current issue. Too bad David Iatesta wasn’t exhibit No. 1, but we’ll celebrate his Stephensville, MD, company right here. He was at the Holly Hunt showroom at the Washington Design Center last week, describing the painstaking process by which his eponymous company transforms trees into the exquisite furniture it makes to order for each customer.
Because he’s local, all this test products come first to Holly Hunt’s DC showroom before they are sent to any of the other 12 showrooms across the country. It was fascinating to hear how David started out making his furniture — “with an extension cord, a bucket of water, and a paintbrush,” because he now occupies sprawling space in two buildings at an office park one exit beyond the Bay Bridge.
Everything that goes into a piece of Iatesta furniture is sourced in the United States, and most of it locally. And if you ever wonder why his furniture is so bloody expensive, listen to him explain all the steps — the 50 layers of bent wood that go into one table leg, the “painstaking hand work” of sanding, staining, waxing, sanding, staining, waxing, and on and on for each piece to pull out the wood’s grain. And just when you think you’re finished — the steel wool comes out for another work-over, “so when you run your hand across it, it feels like silk,” David says.
David’s office sent pictures from his slideshow, which demonstrate the process of building his furniture, in addition to the final products that result.
David has created special tools, which he was purposely vague about, to create rough-hewn surfaces on his consoles and tables. Here’s an example where a surface is intentionally roughed up for the Leone console:
Someday, maybe, I’ll be able to afford some of this furniture. For the moment, I just feel lucky that David has given me a glimpse into the process, so that the price is much more understandable. I would gladly pay it for this kind of intensely local, gorgeous craftsmanship.