Ron Seff, born in New York in 1934, was quintessential Manhattanite and lived his entire life in the city (with the exception of a brief career as an avocado farmer in Costa Rica).
From partying at Studio 54 to strolling in Central Park, Seff took advantage of his New York habitat, especially frequenting the city’s museums, which had a profound influence on him. Seff began his design career as a mural painter for interior designers, whereafter he was tapped by his clients to finish new and antique furnishings in his studio on York Avenue. Among Ron’s early patrons were Robert Metzger, Mark Hampton, Michael Desantis and Karl Springer.
Having studied art at NYU and the School of Visual art, Seff read profusely on the art of finishing and experimented tirelessly using leather inlays and exotic materials, such as reptile hide, goatskin and shagreen. Seff, like designer Karl Springer, revered the works of Jean Michelle Frank, Emile Rhulmann and Jean Dunbar, and sought to emulate both their technical excellence and design integrity. Through their mutual admiration for these masters, Seff and Springer became friends and collaborating with many furnishings for the KARL SPRINGER showroom in the 1970s.
By 1975, Seff’s finishing business had evolved into fabrication of upscale custom furniture, and his business expanded into a 12,000 square foot space occupying two floors at 535 East 75 Street. The workshop employed over 40 workers, mostly of whom were Vietnamese refugees from the Vietnam War. Ron worked with them side by side, training them in his craft and helping many of them to become the very best in the industry (later, many up their own finishing businesses to service major furniture designers such as Karl Springer and Dakota Jackson).
After many successful years, Ron opened his New York showroom on September 30, 1980 in the Fine Arts Building on 59th street. The showroom was approximately 3000 square ft. large. Ron displayed his impeccably executed furniture against a backdrop of exposed brick and twelve foot high sandblasted wood columns, contrasting an entire wall of black amethyst glass. The look was stunning and reflected the glamour of that era.
After moving his New York City workshop to Long Island City in 1982, 1983, Ron set up another in the Philippines the next year. The Philippines operation specialized in the inlay of sharpen, mother of pearl, bone and raffia wood marquetry. Upon the completion of the inlays, items were shipped to the New York workshop and finished meticulously by Ron Seff and his master finishers.
Today, Ron Seff’s work is available with Todd Merrill Studio.