Enrico Bartolini’s start in the furniture industry is firmly rooted at home– an idea conceived with a friend took shape because of his family. Bartolini was 25 years old and working as a carpenter when a friend asked for help building a table for a client of his boss. Amazed by the selling price of the finished table, Bartolini was determined to get his own furniture business started. Without much experience, but a tremendous amount of determination, he cleaned out his parents’ two-car garage and set up a small wood shop and finishing room. After taking over the back side of the garage and his grandmother’s garden, he asked his mother, a skilled seamstress, to set up a table and cutting room in their small basement. She agreed and guided him through the process of making cushions for his furniture. A career was born. Bartolini went from a sole proprietor, churning out original designs in his parents’ home to employing over 30 people and establishing his own factory in less than two years. At one point he had over 140 employees, all building furniture for his company. Bartolini was credited with being one of the leader’s in the ‘Ready To Assemble’ furniture industry (think Ikea). After a decade of selling to the largest furniture retailers in the country, business began to dwindle as Taiwanese and South American companies infiltrated and eventually took over the industry. Enrico closed his enterprise, but recalls the experience of being a business owner fondly. Some of his best memories were made on his grandmother’s picnic table. “My salesmen would stop by and we would sit at the picnic table because the shop did not have an office. I would give them peaches and pears from the trees in the yard along with some fresh tomato sandwiches from the garden,” Bartolini reminisces.
After a quick Google search earlier last year, Bartolini noticed that one of his earlier chaise designs was sold by an antique dealer for thousands of dollars. He decided to get his work back into the public view. Bartolini’s pieces have evolved over the years, from the more mainstream, mass-produced furniture, to the present high-end, one-of-a-kind designs savvy customers appreciate for their quality and unique design. “I love working with unique woods and blending them with polished metals and dyed finishes,” Bartolini explains as he walks through the crowded warehouse, once a part of the Schooley Colliery, adjacent to the Knox Mine shaft in Luzerne County. “When I come up with a design, I always see the shape and then I build it from there,” he explains. “Over the years I have come to meet and build relationships with many manufacturers around the world and have used some of their parts in the recipe of my designs.”
Ideas are overflowing in his workshop and the love of what he does is present in every detail. “There is a trend for Mid-Century pieces right now,” explains Bartolini. His style (or recipe) is bold yet simple and organic. Stainless steel is mixed with wood and leather and accented with sumptuous Mongolian Fur on a modern chair. A chaise made of the same fabric and wood promises to be the favorite spot to rest and stare out at a beautiful view. Structured, polished metal provides the base for a glass table. Bartolini’s pieces are one of a kind and every one is a piece of art. Still based in northeastern Pennsylvania, Enrico Bartolini continues to craft his pieces from home, for homes all over the world.
To view the collection, go to enricobartolini.com which will launch on December 1st.