Touched by an AngelNew York Cottages & GardensMay / June, 2013
Touched by an Angel
Since moving to the United States from Ecuador 13 Years Ago, Designer Angel Naula has been making furniture the only way he knows how : By hand. Naula is a master at creating furniture suited to urbam living.
By Miranda Agee | Photographs by Doug Young | May, 2013
Since moving to the United States from Ecuador 13 years ago, designer Angel Naula has been making furniture the only way he knows how: by hand. “For me, this is tradition,” says Naula, who got his start as a kid in his parents’ furniture construction business. “It’s a personal process. I oversee and help create everything we make here, whether it’s my own design or someone else’s.” Specializing in particularly streamlined pieces, Naula is a master at creating furniture suited to urban living, often incorporating storage compartments into everything from oversize tufted sofas to diminutive side tables.
Occupying an old warehouse in Bushwick, Naula Workshop’s three-story headquarters includes one floor for carpentry, another for upholstery, and a third that serves as a showroom, filled to the brim with Naula’s designs, like the award-winning lacquered canopy bed he dubs “The Plaza.” When professional designers like Kelly Behun, who decorated Ivanka Trump’s apartment with a host of Naula’s pieces, come to him with an idea, he starts with a rough sketch that includes approximate dimensions, shapes, and even types of wood to be used. “Most of my clients already know about different woods,” he says, “but if they don’t, then I have them come to the showroom to take a look around. I want them to understand what they’re asking for.”
After the initial design is approved, Naula takes the sketch to his carpenters, who start with a wood frame and assemble pieces with wooden dowels rather than nails or screws. “When the temperature changes, wood either expands or contracts,” explains Naula. “Screws don’t let a piece breathe, and that’s when things start to crack. Wood on wood always works best together.” Next, Naula’s upholstery crew fits the foam, webbing, and springs to each design. Then the fabric is lined up, sewn perfectly so that patterns and seams match, and cut to size and fitted onto the final product. “We don’t mass-produce anything, which is why every step of the process is so important,” says Naula. “I don’t want to work on any of my pieces a second time!”