“Century Family” RockStars

Industry Rockstars of Century Furniture

 Comer Wear, Richard Frinier, Thomas O’Brien and Charlotte Moss

Comer Wear, Richard Frinier, Thomas O’Brien and Charlotte Moss

It is always a pleasure to chat with industry rockstars! This week, we had the opportunity to visit with Comer Wear, VP of Marketing at Century Furniture, Richard Frinier, Furniture Designer, Thomas O’Brien Founder of Aero and Charlotte Moss, well, of Charlotte Moss!


Comer Wear, Century furniture

When and how did you know this incredible industry would be home for you?  

Ironically, having grown up going to market every October and April to see my Dad, I never thought I would end up working in furniture.  I wanted to be a foreign news correspondent. However, after a couple of different career tracks— including a stint in investment banking and non-profit—I started doing some projects for my brother who was already back at Century.  One thing lead to another, and I took a position as a sales representative for Century. That's really where my love of this industry formed. The designers and business owners that I met in my years as a sales representative were so incredible, and I loved being a small part of what they did.

Comer Wear.jpg

What has been your biggest challenge?  

Separating business and pleasure, or in this case work and family :).   

Who was the most inspirational person you have met?  

There are so many people who inspire me, but to name two: My father has incredible vision and knowledge of this industry, and he has always championed Century and it's legacy. His commitment in steering us through some of the toughest years in the industry is the stuff of legends.  And my brother has more passion and grit than just about anyone I know when it comes to furniture. He inspires me on a daily basis.

What was your first success?  

I can remember the very first market order I wrote as a sales representative.  It was our Cadbury Wing Chair, and I sold it to Linda Thornburn from Murrows Furniture Galleries in Wilmington, NC. She retired from the business years ago, but that first market order meant everything to me as a young sales rep.

What do you love most about design?  

EVERYTHING.  I love the process of design,  how a collection or a piece comes to life, and all of the various people involved in that process.  There are so very many minds and hands that work through one single design. It's incredible, really.   

What showroom/showrooms do you always make a point to visit?

During market, I am pretty much in the Century showroom around the clock, but I would have to say our sister brands, Highland House and Hancock & Moore are top-notch. And in the future, I’ll be very excited to visit Hickory Chair, Pearson, and Maitland Smith!


Richard Frinier

When and how did you know this incredible industry would be home for you? 

I studied art, craft and sculpture, developing my master thesis and first gallery exhibition on how light defines form. I spent the 1970’s as a bohemian artist, craftsman and model maker. In 1981, on the cover of the Los Angeles Times Magazine, I saw a sculptural outdoor chaise lounge. The form was pure and elegant. It was functional art, and it changed my mindset about manufacturing vs. making something one at a time. 

 Richard Frinier

Richard Frinier

What has been your biggest challenge? 

I really enjoy what I do. I view challenges as a very inspiring and energizing part of my creative process. I do some of my best work when challenges are present. 

Who was the most inspirational person you have met? 

I had the pleasure of working with the late, great furniture and fashion designers Hall Bradley and Oscar de la Renta. 

What was your first success? 

While traveling one year through Europe, I apprenticed at the Anton Lang Pottery Studio in Oberammergau, Germany. One of my first designs was a pitcher, which Karl, son of Anton smiled and called “Krug Rikkard." Karl liked it so much that he showed it at the Ambiente Fair in Frankfurt, then returned with orders for the first 40 Krugs! While I was good at making one-of-a-kind pottery, I then found myself sitting at the potter’s wheel turning out pitcher after pitcher making them as similar as possible. Back then, they were not so interested in the handmade, one-of-a-kind maker’s style so popular today. Several years later, when I was still freelancing, I made some drawings for a California-based furniture manufacturer looking for something new. My one-and-only-bedroom set for that company remarkably sold 9,000 sets over a five-year production run. These earlier successes proved to me that I was headed in the right direction. 

What do you love most about design? 

It is a way for me to realize my creative ideas, vision and perspective, and a wonderful opportunity to work with master craftspeople around the world, which is one of the aspects of my work that I enjoy the most. I also enjoy the creative process and the outcome. There is nothing that gives me more pleasure or sense of accomplishment then when I am able to see the expression on someone’s face that I have never met before when they see one of my designs for the first time and they start to smile and relax and make an emotional connection with what I created. It does not get any better than this for me. 

What showroom/showrooms do you always make a point to visit? 

Century Furniture / Sunbrella / Currey & Company 


Thomas O’Brien, AERO

 Thomas O’Brien. ( Photo credit: House Beautiful)

Thomas O’Brien. (Photo credit: House Beautiful)

When and how did you know this incredible industry would be home for you?

Years ago when I was working for Ralph Lauren and bought my first little house.  A tiny little cottage with a fire engine red front door. That’s when I knew.

What has been your biggest challenge?

There are challenges every day.  Getting everyone to understand the complexity of making things well these days is the current trickiest task.

Who was the most inspirational person you have met?

My Grandmother.

What was your first success?

AERO. My Store and Studio.

What do you love most about design?

Details and sorting out the best ways to make things beautiful.

What showroom/showrooms do you always make a point to visit?

Well, Century and Visual Comfort are always first.  I love the antiques at 214 Modern Vintage from Lewis Trimble, Tandem Antiques, and Gillan Bryce. Schwung is always a go-to as well.


Charlotte Moss

 Charlotte Moss

Charlotte Moss

When and how did you know this incredible industry would be home for you?

First, when I was growing up I always had an instinct for things around the house. Colors, rearranging furniture, helping my mother and grandmother I learned a lot by watching them. Back then, i didn’t even know people did that for a living. I learned much later, but life took a turn and i ended up on Wall Street. When a merger occurred I took that as my cue, time to write a business plan. That was 33 years ago.

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge....learning to establish relationships...This is a business that is all about relationships. The most important thing you can do is LISTEN. Listen to everyone , the client, the staff , the vendors, architects, contractors, you learn from everyone and that learning enhances How you handle every subsequent project. I am glad to say I have met MANY inspirational people and can’t hang a label on just one. Designers of the past have left their mark, I have friends in the business that I admire their work, their discipline, and their passion. I’ll take passion any day.

What was your first success? 

Success is measured different ways by different people. Sometimes success is the realization that something failed. My first hire, my first successful presentation, my first installation, all of that confirmed I had selected the right profession.

What do you love most about design? 

The field of design affords you limitless opportunities to imagine, to dream, to concept, to visualize and create. I can’t imagine anything better. Clients are different, their needs are varied, just LISTEN and another opportunity to design presents itself.


 

You can meet these talents in a private Meet & Mingle Steelyard Insider Event. A few lucky designers will be selected at random and will be gifted a book. Make sure you put your name in the hat!