THE ULTIMATE UPHOLSTERER: IF YOU ARE NOT FAMILIAR, YOUR BUTT IS
You may not recognize his name but your backside is absolutely familiar with Andrew Grossman’s work.
Grossman is the upholsterer to the area’s most-prominent and largest restaurants, casinos and theaters as well as architects and designers. He is a talented sculptor using bolts of cotton, leather and vinyl as his medium.
I spoke with the handsome and very busy Grossman last week regarding his creativity and thriving business, which also caters to individuals in the area seeking to reupholster a fantastic thrift store find, outdoor furniture or family heirloom.
TBP: How does one get into the upholstery business?
Grossman: I graduated college in 1996, returning to the Jersey Shore after a few years in Vermont. I got a job almost immediately at an upholstery company and after a crash course couple of years of learning a lot, I felt like I could do the work on my own. I opened my business in 1998 in Belmar – we moved to Asbury Park a few years ago.
Since I was a kid, I like taking things apart, putting them back together and working with wild tools. And that is pretty much what upholstery is.
I like working with patterns or creating them. My great grandfather owned Barnett’s clothing store in town years ago so some people say that working with textiles is in my blood. When I am in my workshop, I rarely feel like I am working despite being busy and sometimes never seeing daylight.
My customers draw the canvas and we make the canvas. We bring their vision to life, which is a great satisfaction for us.
TBP: And everyone reading this has probably sat on your work – or seen it covering the goal posts at some sporting arenas.
Grossman: If you have been to a 6,000 seat theater in New York City or a restaurant in Asbury Park, you have sat on a chair we upholstered. I cannot say the names of my clients but we have worked on seating and interiors in New York City, Atlantic City and everywhere else in New Jersey.
For the theater, there were two parts to every chair – 12,000 pieces. It was a feat for any group of humans to make and install the seats on the schedule we had.
TBP: Looking around your workshop the pieces you are working on are spectacular. The scale and detail is overwhelming. The stitching is perfection – like the finest Mercedes-Benz seating. Each piece is a sculpture.
Grossman: There is a great sense of pride and accomplishment in every piece that goes out of here – big and small. I am a perfectionist and have a strong opinion of what looks good. Nothing leaves here until it is immaculate. There is no such thing as “kinda looks good” here.
And we do it all in a good way. We work as a team here and I do not want anyone to ever leave. A reality show company came here and told me I was “too normal.” I am totally grounded. And if we mess up, we are going to do it over.
Next up are more amazing projects. I like to be challenged. Last December, I bought a Computer Numerical Control router which is huge for us. It’s a huge machine – bigger than a Cadillac. Now we can replicate architectural millwork, precision cut parts for furniture frames and make parts that work perfectly together. When I sleep I wake up thinking about the codes for the machine.
If you see me surfing or downhill skateboarding, that is when I am relaxing.
More at AndrewGrossmanUpholstery.com.
For more TheBPlot interviews with brilliant local area craftspeople and talents:
- Furniture / woodworker
- Jewelry design and another one
- Jeans / custom clothing
- Architectural salvage
- Art gallery
- Carpet repair / cleaning
- Clock repair
- Veterinarian / pet care