Friday, December 9, 2011

Cupboards Interview: Tyler Vendituoli

Social media has opened so many doors in the past couple of years. Fortunately, my social media experience has been nothing but positive and I've met some of the most awesome people(both industry contacts and now very personal friends). Occasionally, my social media contacts allow me to meet even MORE people.

Today is a special day on the blog- I've decided to start sharing some of the awesome people that I've met and been introduced to.

Todd Vendituoli is a builder friend of mine on twitter- He splits time between New England and the Bahamas. I'm thankful to call Todd a reader of the Cupboards Blog and I'm always happy to read about his adventures and the great information he shares on The BuildingBlox Blog. But this isn't about Todd...

Recently, Todd mentioned that his son Tyler did work with industrial-type lighting. The stuff is awesome, so I asked a few questions. It's always refreshing to see other young(er) people in the industry. Since I started out in the cabinet biz at a young age, I feel like we have a bit in common.

Meet Tyler Vendituoli-

Nick: How did you get your start in the business of repurposing older items in to new products? I've decided to call you a reconstruction sculptor- is that a good description?

Tyler: I went to college for fine arts and specialized in metals and sculpture. In a sculpture class we were given the assignment of taking an existing thing and giving it new life. I took a old hedge trimmer, took it completely apart, and reassembled all the pieces into the shape of a helicopter. That was the first time. From there I became interested in taking something and removing it from its context, repurposing it or using it differently and making objects that were not only functional or simply interesting but also had a story and a history of its parts.

N: What do you think homeowners find appealing about your repurposed items? Why would I want an ice tong pendant or a lamp made from a 55-gallon drum?

T: You want one because no one else has one and its like nothing you've ever seen. Its a talking point. Its not only has a function, but it has a story. It compels visitors to your home to notice it, to think about, to comment on it. There are tons of what I call "unoffensive lights" on the market. They sit in the corner, complete their function and no one ever really takes notice of their existence. That's great and serves a purpose, but apathy and indifference is not something I'm going to aspire to.

(Did you just read that last sentence?! This is why Tyler is a winner.)

N: Do you find that your youth helps with the creative process? Most of the items you use were originally used long before you were born. Has your age been an obstacle in your field?

T: I don't feel that my age particularly helps me in the "creative process" but rather frees me to explore ideas and play upon them as I want. No really expects the young guy in the back room to be cooking up wild ideas and executing them, so when it happens it carries even more weight.

  In terms of my age and the items I use: I get a lot of the parts from antique shops. Antique shops are very suspicious of young guys walking through their crowded stores. But it's a matter of playing their game. They ask- "Do you know what that is" and you respond "It's a drop forged ice tong from the so and so forge and foundry in Hartford Connecticut." You've now proven that you know more then they do and proceed along your way. You buy the item, come back and they remember  you, and almost more importantly, take you seriously.

   In terms of the items being older then me being an obstacle: Let me ask you- Do you understand how your smart phone works? Probably not. Old things are easy. There are gears, pulleys, cams and simple parts that some guy hammered out in his back yard. You can look at it and figure out how it works.

N: It is scary that our "smart" phones may be smarter than we are. I found your work from your father, Todd. It's obvious that he's proud of you. How has he influenced you? Do you see some of him in yourself?

T: In my life my parents have only had a "straight job" for maybe two years- Being at a job working normal hours for someone else. I learned hard work and creative thinking as well as entrepreneurship from them without even realizing it. I took a semester off between high school and college and worked with my dad doing carpentry and construction. We would work 65 to 80 hour weeks sometimes. It was hard and honestly not very much fun, but it allowed me to go fishing in Alaska with a friend the next week. My parents instilled in me that if you work for it, you can do whatever you want.

N: Well, your work is fantastic and I can't wait to see what you do in the future. If someone wants to buy something you've made or inquire about a piece, how should they contact you?

T: I can be reached in a multitude of ways depending on what you're after.
   For repurposed lighting-
   For sculpture-
   For my personal projects- Penguin Fire Workshop

...and carrier pigeons are always welcome off the back porch.


  1. Amazing fixtures! Thanks so much for introducing Tyler to us Nick. I can honestly say I've never seen anything like his work before. The ice tong pendant, and the jar light with the pine cone weight? Works of art.

    One thing ... Tyler needs to wear work boots when working with the grinder :-) Sorry. The dad in me just crept out.

  2. Arne- Pretty cool stuff, huh? Hey at least he's wearing shoes... you know I'd probably have on flip-flops. Ha!

  3. nothing on footwear. imaginative artist and imaginative post. Thanks for the profile Nick. cheers to both.

  4. Fantastic! What a creative family. Great post!

  5. Creative, cool, and inspired work. Thanks for showcasing Tyler on the blog! Really enjoyed reading this.


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