richard velloso furniture maker brooklyn dumbo best of nyc

Richard Velloso’s furniture workshop and showroom is right around the corner from us here in Dumbo. This being Brooklyn’s tiniest neighborhood, it was impossible for us not to notice his roughly sophisticated mix of materials in the window of Olga Guanabara, and the dog that he named his shop after. It wasn’t long before we were working together to capture the spirit Richard defines as “martini meets a shot of whiskey.” We went down the block to discuss his studio life and exclusive collection with west elm.

west elm richard velloso brooklyn dumbo furniture

What inspires you?

I guess one could say that the materials themselves – wood, steel, glass, concrete, stone or even rubber – inspire me. I love that furniture represents a gathering point for sharing precious times with family and friends. Of course I also get inspired by New York City and all the amazing mixtures that happen here: the old and the new, the industrial and the modern, the beautiful and the “ugly,” the rich and the poor, the intellectual and the simple.

richard velloso olga furniture brooklyn west elm design

What is your studio practice like?

Sometimes I have a very clear and fixed idea in my head. I draw it up and do whatever it takes to pull it off. Sometimes I come across a piece of wood, and I stare at the thing for days or months, just imagining what could be done with this “junk,” until one day something clicks. When it’s that sort of process, I call it “backwards creativity.” It’s looking at what is available in the studio and trying to figure a way to turn that thing into something that hopefully will look pretty cool.

richard velloso west elm designed in brooklyn furniture raw wood

What do you like most about working in Dumbo?

For starters, I also live in Dumbo too, so the commute is amazing. I walk out of my apartment and into my studio down the block. And of course I can take Olga to work with me everyday.

I love the fact that this used to be such an amazing industrial part of New York. The old factories, the cobble stone streets, the brick and the trolley tracks inspire me. The view of the two bridges and the East River are pretty fantastic too. Tourists flock here for a weekend afternoon, and I get to live here on a regular basis. That’s pretty cool.

richard velloso brooklyn furniture west elm modern design

What’s the story behind some of the pieces in your collection for west elm?

I spent last Christmas in Argentina, on a farm where we had these huge barbecues under these beautiful trees. The dining table set up was just some big wooden boards held up by saw horses. When I got back to Dumbo, I recreated my own version of that experience and shrunk it down to a coffee table and a side table for west elm. The design has an industrial quality to it, but with cleaner lines and a modern twist.

west elm richard velloso dumbo furniture design studio visit

See more of Richard Velloso’s designs on his website for Olga Guanabara. You can also get social with Richard and his furniture on Twitter.

Images: west elm

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March 5, 2013

It’s nice to see where West Elm’s ideas come from. Richard’s pieces look great, and I’d definitely consider that coffee table for my own living room!


March 5, 2013



March 5, 2013

Beautiful and inspired work.

Ceciliana Alonso

March 5, 2013

Excellent job. !!! Congrats from puerto rico. I can said beautiful design. Be creative…

claudia limpic

March 6, 2013

Great creativity Richard! Your work is beautiful and inspired!


March 27, 2013

Handsome with the furniture to match. Call me.

Lisa Isham

March 27, 2013

Beautiful !!!! Perfect art work and love love the dog! What a wonderful way to live and your Fur Baby gets to be with you~

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