A great piece of furniture is the heart of a room, it imprints on the visual, sensual and physical mind an experience – it forms a life, changes a life, remembers life.
John Cortese creates that kind of furniture, serious furniture.
Pieces that remind us with what depth and voice we want to live.
Transplanted from Park Slope Brooklyn, to Los Angeles and now San Diego’s Hancock Street, Cortese grew up on the singsong Brooklyn streets, playing baseball and learning the values of his down-to-earth, traditional close-nit Italian family. His father, John Cortese Sr., a vegetable and fruit grocer, hand-picked his fresh wares, caring what each customer wanted. Cortese learned from his father that quality translates. He learned to understand the heart of a home and how life gets passed from one generation to the next. This is reflected in his impeccable and outspoken furniture design.
As a young apprentice to a Japanese woodworker in Woodstock, NY, Cortese Jr. learned the fine art of using hand tools, which he continues to use today. As a fashion and lifestyle photographer on location for major national magazines he was influenced by the European and modern style of his subject and their sophisticated surroundings. His design work ranges from Mid-Century Modern to pieces speak simply of the incredible wood.
Cortese’s one-of-a-kind, signature tables are as likely to anchor a room with design sophistication, as they are to welcome a gaggle of children to piles of pancakes or hold a cup of hot coffee or a bottle of whiskey among friends.
His chairs – durable and unexpected. His beds – poetic and inviting. His cabinets – Proustian and reminiscent of the days when furniture mattered. His desks and side tables driven by an era when books, pens, paper, smart conversation and coffee between two people was important.
Modernism at its finest.