What brought you to your craft?
Gabrielle Galardo - My family has been in the furniture industry since the late 1950s when my grandfather started an upholstered furniture company, which took off during the apartment boom in 1960s Los Angeles. He would sell and deliver pieces by day and manufacture by night in his garage with the help of a seamstress. The business expanded from there and soon my dad was going to work at “the shop” after middle school. He ultimately took over the business when my grandfather retired.
I grew up visiting the factory and shopping furniture stores with my parents and siblings. I mostly enjoyed it and sometimes it was tedious, but what was special was that I was able to connect to what my dad did for a living and what my family created. Despite the exposure to the business, my parents never encouraged me to work at the company. They were big believers in the importance of outside experience. A couple of years after I had been working in advertising my dad asked my opinion of some logo designs they were considering, I realized that there was an opportunity to help rebrand the company and help expand their position in the market. From there, my role evolved over time, and I never looked back. I absolutely loved working with my dad. Later John joined us, and with the exposure and experiences we gained together, John and I felt we had this strong foundation to build upon when creating One For Victory.
John Grootegoed - I’ve had my head in the clouds as far back as I can remember. It wasn’t viewed as a positive trait by my midwestern parents. As a child I would take toys apart, just to see how things functioned. Much to my father's frustration many of those toys were never reassembled. I started to design cars made of wood and built birdhouses. As I developed into a teenager my creative perspective found its way into my clothing. I would spray paint shoes and search the local thrift stores for vintage suits. In my early career, the love of design, color, and unique perspectives always bubbled up. It wasn’t until I entered my 30s that I saw the opportunities in design and product development. Furniture is functional art, and it is something deeply personal to me.
Did you have any mentors? Who or what helped you plant your feet to the ground?
GG - We’ve been fortunate to have a number of people mentor us with such a willingness to share their knowledge and perspective. It’s been incredible for us to have this community emerge with the purpose of helping us to realize our vision for our collection and brand.
My parents are the mentors that have had the biggest. During our childhood, they put such emphasis on exposing me and my siblings to different cultures and cultural expression from theater to art to music. I credit them with my appreciation for color, detail, and proportions.
JG - My father-in-law, Michael Galardo, is my creative mentor. His teaching expanded my understanding of the relationship between finesse and function. Looks draw people in, but comfort keeps them in. It is important to design beautiful furniture, but it is equally important to design for comfort.
Where do you turn for inspiration?
GG - I find that the most important part of inspiration is being in the right mindset to receive it. If I can take a little time to shift out of the day-to-day by getting outdoors or visiting somewhere new, I’m so much more able to connect with what moves me. We are both heavily influenced by a strong sense of nostalgia, so we often reference the classic elements of the past to help give our collection longevity.
JG - I find inspiration in the design aesthetic of the past. I’m a big fan of 1960s automotive design. That influence is especially noticeable in our Jameson chair that was inspired by the bucket seat of a 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. I’ve also been influenced by my Midwestern parents’ practical approach. I need things to perform a function and perform it well. Watches and other mechanical things are attractive to my sensibilities.
Do you have any rituals? What’s a habit or routine that you practice daily?
We share and revel in a morning routine that sets the tone for the day. Our focus is on light and movement. We’ll get outside with our coffees as soon as we can to connect with the sun and reflect on the beauty of the environment. We enjoy the softness of the morning light, the stillness before the bustle the day brings. There is a calm optimism in the morning.
What’s your [design] aesthetic?
Our aesthetic is a casual California modern. Our pieces are rooted in classic and vintage elements, with thoughtful details that make the design special. We are constantly learning from those who came before us. I think that people should recognize how important it is to learn from the past.
What moves you?
The product development process from paper to prototype is the most challenging and fulfilling part of what we do. It’s what keeps us engaged and inspired. Seeing ideas come to fruition. The challenge of starting something and creating it.
What fuels you outside of your craft? Something completely divorced from your work.
JG - I love to travel and am open to adventure and opportunity I try my absolute best to say yes to experiences. If a friend is thinking of taking a leap, I encourage them to do it and I support them along the way – I’m that guy. I relish collaborating with friends and cheering them on.
GG - I live for my family, friends, the Southern California landscape, and the pursuit of the best pizza this side of Naples.
What is your most important rule when it comes to design?
Who is your favorite designer? Why?
JG - Right now artists are my design inspiration -
Ellsworth Kelly for simplicity, shapes, and color.
Edward Hopper, for a sense of escape.
Grant Wood, for nostalgia.
GG - Gio Ponti for his vision, aesthetic, use of color and materials. The way his appreciation of la dolce vita was communicated through his craft. I especially love Ponti’s Planchart Villa in Venezuela. The colorful design, the lush landscaping, and the modern architecture are stunning. It may also be that I am Italian and Venezuelan, so it’s this perfect meshing of two cultures that are dear to me.
What content are you consuming right now (what are you reading, what are you listening to, what are you watching)?
JG - I’m going back through all the Wes Anderson films. Every time I notice new details. The colors are incredible.
GG - I’ve been getting sentimental and revisiting the music of my childhood from Frank Sinatra to Beastie Boys.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
JG - Push past the point of failure. Don’t quit. That is how you overcome your fears. Fear will always be there. It is the management of fear that is reflected in our company name, One For Victory.
GG - Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. (Voltaire “The best is the enemy of the good.”)
What is the best tip you can give a young designer?
GG - Surround yourself with people who can help you realize your passion because you don’t do anything alone. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
JG - I live by the motto ‘have fun, take chances’.
What’s your favorite design piece in your home right now?
JG - Our 1971 Ford Bronco in Calypso Coral
GG - Collection of mid-century vintage lamps, in pure colors found in Palm Springs
What are your two favorite items in the Autotype Marketplace and why?
JG - ICON 4x4 Bronco - Design your own - It’s simple and strong and brutal and done with such an incredible focus on detail by ICON. It’s functional art.
Field Notes – I love having a notepad, something about it makes me feel prepared. You always must be ready for your next great idea.
GG – Marmol Radziner’s Bar Earrings - The brass finish is stunning and the shape is so classic. I could wear them every day.
Jimmy Hayes’ ‘Secret Beach’ framed print - Its graphic nature is stunning and elegant.