Made Local: In the SpotlightAuthor:Lindsey Shook
Legendary craftsman David Copello Guild is emerging from the shadows with an impressive perspective and collection
FOUNDED IN 1990, David Copello began manufacturing custom lighting, hardware and metalwork for many of the Bay Area’s top design firms. An industrialist at heart, the second-generation machinist received formal training under master furniture maker Hatakeyama of Yokohama, Japan, who not only taught the young apprentice his craft but also the importance of business etiquette. After serving the local design community for 30 years, he recently debuted his own collection at Hewn, bringing to light his meticulous skills and acute sense of modern design.
-For years now you have produced custom collections for several brands and designers. Why did you decide to start producing your own pieces? Over the last 30 years of manufacturing, I’ve seen a pattern develop where after a brand is locally made and established as being of the highest quality, production is then moved overseas while still being marketed as made locally. This bait-and-switch business tactic damages not just local manufacturing but also the reputation of designers when clients find out their high-end products are not what they thought. I had to change my concept of locally made to include designing as well. This now is a true guarantee that my brand is what I say it is, made in California. It’s real, come see for yourself!
–What have been the greatest challenges of producing locally? I grew up right here in Burlingame and have seen so many changes. High rents have forced key vendors to close or relocate, and industries such as metal finishing and electroplating have all but disappeared. This also forced me to bring these specialties in-house, which ultimately made us more self-sufficient while guaranteeing quality. As challenging as all of this has been, my biggest hurdle is drawing awareness to the importance of local manufacturing. It’s critical to know where a product is made and to be able talk with the one who made it.
–How did training under Hatakeyama combined with living in California, shape the designs of your current collections? Hatakeyama was an incredible craftsman who trained me in Yokohama, Japan. He taught me how to balance shape with structure, ethics with service and most important, the hand-to-machine relationship. When you look at my designs closely, you can see these subtle details in the shape and texture inspired by things found in nature. For example, my Basa line was inspired by the spectacular columnar-jointed Basalt rock deposits found at Devils Postpile in Mammoth, California. From the gold-rush-era mines in Sonora to the grand coastal Redwoods, California has been one of my biggest design influences.
–How has the pandemic positively shifted your business? As tragic as the pandemic has been, it’s also been a time for adaptation. With showrooms closed and many projects paused, it gave me the opportunity to focus more on my social media presence and website. In addition to that, I also was able to draw closer to my team. We stayed open during the pandemic to serve as an emergency repair shop for essential businesses, even making batches of hand sanitizer and then donating them to our community. I want to thank my employees who were committed to health and safety, both inside the shop and out.
–What is next on the horizon for the David Copello Guild? 2021 is all about textures. My new Obsidian line features sculpted brass and hand-poured glass that we melt and shape right here in-house. We’re also in discussions with new showrooms around the U.S. and are looking forward to working with them. There is always something new being developed here. Please know you’re welcome to schedule a factory tour and see how our beautiful products are made!
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