Randall Barbera devotes his life to vintage trunks that “scream for help”. More than simply restoring them, he believes in communicating each piece’s original intent while adding to it. See what he has to say about his one-of-a-kind creations…
Viyet: What inspired this career path for you?
Randall: Growing up in New England, our homes were always filled with antiques and, when I would accidentally break a piece (which happened more than I will ever admit to), I would repair it before I got caught. When I saw a spread in Architectural Digest on trunks that had been restored, I thought… “I could do that”, and did.
Describe your style in 6 words or less: Goyard meets Led Zeppelin.
Viyet: How long have you been in this business and what is your approach when selecting trunks to restore?
Randall: Sixteen years. Antique trunks with unique brass hardware always catch my eye. Especially when they are in total disrepair!
Viyet: Describe the restoration process. What is your favorite part or parts?
Randall: Initially spotting a trunk that screams at me for help is one of my favorite parts of the process. From that point, taking it completely apart, nail by nail, and then developing a “talking” relationship with it to bring back and sometimes augment its personality, and then adding a touch of me to it, is when I feel like I’m on to something.
Viyet: Currently, which are your favorite trunks and why?
Randall: Goyards, forever. There seem to be less of them in the world and the lines in the binding are extraordinary. A close 2nd is Louis Vuitton, and mine are in a very firm 3rd place!
Viyet: Share with us something the average consumer wouldn’t know about your business and approach to restoration.
Randall: There is rarely a realized “game plan” with my approach to restoration or redesigning. I just start in on a spontaneous spark and try to isolate problems as they present themselves. Any given successful “fix” might yield inspiration, and attention to minute detail tends to put the whole into better focus, as crazy as that sounds. When I really get into a creative groove, it’s kind of like that middle section in the song “Whole Lotta Love”, screams and all!
Viyet: Who do you look up to in the design world?
Randall: Goyard, Louis Vuitton, and Mark Cutler.
Viyet: If you could design a space for anyone, what kind of space and for whom would it be?
Randall: A Victorian workshop, complete with all the ancient tools, for my wife and partner Lisa, and me.
Viyet: Tell us your favorite design-related word, phrase, or quote.
Randall: Only the very rich can afford poor quality.
Viyet: What do you love about Viyet?
Randall: The amazing stuff of very real people.