Meet Our Maker: Distressed Design

It’s not often you hear about people moving from Miami to Michigan - usually one would think it would go the other way around. But Anthony Acosta, owner of Distressed Design, has made a habit of doing things seemingly the wrong way ‘round, and coming out the other side with unique and gorgeous designs.

Going forward backwards

In 2013, Anthony decided he wanted a change of scenery and pace. Leaving his job as a successful architect and engineer, Anthony packed up and moved away from the sun and surf to the cloudy cold. He didn’t want to get back into architecture again- he wanted to focus on his true love of design, “I wanted someone else to do the nitty gritty,” he told us.

But what to do? While working as a consulting designer for other architects, he was always on the lookout for design ideas. He’d meet people at antique fairs and look at their used products, and think “I could make something out of that.” He’d buy it, and stick it in a corner, walking by it for months, ruminating. He had the materials, but not the design for it- again, seemingly working the process backwards.

He also knew he had “sketch pads full of ideas!” Lots of things he wanted made, but no one to build them. So, he took it upon himself to realize his own concepts.

His hobby ended up generating a lot of interest, with custom orders coming in left and right. 6 months after moving, Anthony opened Distressed Designs.

Inspired by the past, made out of the present

Anthony began to use his vintage purchases to make beautiful pieces of art, lighting, and other home decor. Old cans become lights. Iron Pipes and boards become wine racks. Even a colander can be utilized to bring a room a touch of industrial whimsy.

We had to ask- where does he get his ideas?

“My education as an architect was classically oriented. I love the Greek philosophy of  proportion and aesthetics. But I also love modern industrial materials- glass and iron. It’s like mixing the classical style of Rome with the modern aesthetic of Tokyo. I can appreciate them both, and I think they both have something to offer.”

So he likes to take traditional and classical decor ideas- pendant lights, chandeliers, lamps, etc. - and apply his modern industrial aesthetic by incorporating materials he finds around his Michigan community.

It isn’t always easy. Sometimes, sure, the designs come to him right away, but other times “I’m banging my head because I can’t get an idea to work.” But he gets there in the end, and we think you’ll agree that the results are gorgeous and unique.

Making a future

Anthony sees a bright future for makers like himself. Even with instability in the current economy, “it will always be cheaper to redecorate than to remodel, and new and remodeled spaces will always need lights and shelves.”

But what about competition from corporate competitors? Anthony is, again, confident in his product. He compares his style to that of decor giant Restoration Hardware. They “put out a nice product,” he notes, “but it’s a replica. Sure, someone designed it, but that design was copied and made in bulk in China and India.” Ultimately, he notes, customers end up with the same unique style as everybody else.

“Each item I make may be similar, but has a unique feel, which comes from the individual imperfections, patina, shaping, and vintage of the materials used.” So, to him, its’ a contrast between faux vintage and the real thing. And, of course, he makes sure to note that his prices are actually lower than similarly mass produced pieces!

He compares it to buying a new suit. Sure, you can get a mass produced suit cheaply, but even paying more for a custom suit, hand made, its going to look better, last longer, and mean more than anything off the rack.

Anthony, we couldn’t agree more.


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