This is D3 The Concrete, bringing you fashion from the street.

I am very excited about this interview, particularly because it is my first interview with a furniture company, that is heavily involved in streetwear.

How so, one may ask? Simple: MODERNICA, from what I could attain in my research, is the largest producer of streetwear collaborative furniture! Huge deal, in my opinion.

A couple days ago, I got a chance to chat with one, Lennys Arais, the supervisor of assembly and manufacturing over at Modernica. Check out the interview below and tell us what you think in the comments.


Italics: D3 The Concrete // BOLD: Lenny Arais // All Photos courtesy of MODERNICA

Tell us who you are and where you are from.

My name is Lennys Arias, I was born in Mexico and raised in Los Angeles. I’m the supervisor of the assembly and fiberglass shell chair manufacturing department at the Modernica factory, where I’ve been working for the last 12 years. 

Give us the history of Modernica and how it came to be?

Modernica was founded 27 years ago in Los Angeles by brothers, Frank and Jay Novak, the company continues to be family-owned. We have 80 employees at our factory located just south of Downtown Los Angeles. The factory itself is on a 5 acre property, we manufacture everything in-house, from beds and dressers to our famous fiberglass shell chairs, these and all other Case Study® brand pieces are made here. Although every department at the factory is noteworthy, we are truly fortunate to own the historic fiberglass machinery that is on our property, it allows us the freedom to not only oversee quality on the daily, but we can also get creative and test things out with the chairs, this is what led to our successful collaborations program with other companies.  

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What is it about “modern” home furniture that is captivating to the streetwear culture?

I think more and more people in general are looking for high quality pieces that are also beautiful. Design is always a factor when we purchase things and there’s a strong appeal in clean and modern design. Streetwear culture is known to be design-savvy and you want your home to be a reflection of who you are, this is where Modernica comes in, we understand the need for pieces that are not only current, but also timeless. When you make an investment on furniture, we want you to feel confident in your purchase, almost all of our pieces are made to order, and you basically get to design the furniture as well, by choosing colors, bases, fabrics, all of this is determined by you.

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I noticed that Modernica did a few high profile streetwear collaborations this year and in years past (specifically HUF, Anti-Social Social Club, Stussy, and my favorite streetwear brand, Undefeated). How do the conversations of collaboration begin and how are the details determined for the release of said collaboration?

We began to work on collaborations years ago, our first was A Bathing Ape, we created a limited edition set of fiberglass shell chairs in various colors for them. Years passed and one of my co-workers, Sergio Diaz, who also happens to be the Woodshop Manager, met Nicky Diamond of Diamond Supply Co. He had an idea for a diamond design on a fiberglass shell chair and after a few samples, we were able to capture what he had envisioned, the chair turned out beautiful and word spread when it was released.

We were then contacted by other brands, who wanted to collaborate. It’s interesting to see each design come to life. It’s usually a process that takes time [while] we make samples and we don’t stop until the collaborator is happy with the result. We love to see what each brand comes up with, sometimes it’s a print, a logo, or a  completely new color, like HUF. Fiberglass shell chairs are each unique, there are no two that are the same, and that’s part of the beauty of them, that you not only receive something that is limited edition, but within that edition, your chair is one of a kind.

The process of making fiberglass shell chairs is half machinery and half man made. Each chair that leaves our factory has been handled by highly skilled technicians, and we take great pride in each piece that leaves the factory. We also always ask for the artist or brand directors to visit our factory and see firsthand how the product is made, so that there’s a better understanding of what the final product will look like. It’s important to us that everyone involved has an understanding, and therefore greater appreciation, of our products.

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Speaking of collaborations, how is collaborating with an artist (such as the collaboration with Takashi Murakami)? Describe the similarities and differences between working with an artist versus collaborating with a brand.

At Modernica we have a strong appreciation for art, and it shows in the collaborations that we’ve been involved in. Working for an artist and a brand is very similar. They both want their vision to come across on the product we are making. We did a collaboration with artist Cleon Peterson, with a launch party at our factory and he painted the front of our Spanish Revival building with the mural that was on the fabric of the daybed we made.

We did this with DabsMyla as well, where they created an installation in the entire building that was open to the public for a month. We also made fiberglass shell chairs for them with artwork to match the exhibition. These have been very cohesive collaborations, where the artists are very involved in every aspect of design and marketing.

Sometimes brands opt for a launch party as well, for example, Anti Social Social Club, they launched their chair at our factory and we painted the building pink to match the chair. Both brands and artists want the item that will be released to speak of who they are as a brand or an artist, and they all want high quality, which we deliver.

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Please offer some practical advice for people who may be interested in the furniture industry.

Get involved in any level in the furniture industry, whether it’s customer service or graphic design. Most of us don’t start off designing products, unless you’re an industrial designer, we gain the knowledge with time as we work our way up. The only way to truly learn and understand furniture is to be involved in some way with those who manufacture it. I would recommend looking for a local furniture maker, there’s a huge advantage when you work with smaller companies, you are able to see, and sometimes be involved, in most aspects of the process, from handling raw materials to the completion of final products that are shipped to customers.

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Be sure to check out MODERNICA on their website and support the brand!