Ben Leuner (photographer),
Lisa Freedman (writer)
"Shit, where am I?" furniture designer Ted Nemeth mumbles into the phone before asking to reschedule our interview, blaming his confusion on a booze-fueled night out. Apparently, a pre-noon phone interview on a Saturday is a ridiculous request for this Brooklyn-based designer. You see, Ted Nemeth Designs is no Ethan Allen. Both make ottomans and end tables, but only one creates a wild line of "hot rod-slash-chopper style," as Nemeth explains it.
His career in leather tooling began three and a half years ago when Nemeth couldn't find one of his favorite bags. "I made a replacement by cutting up an old piece of leather and bolting it together into a messenger bag, and people loved it everywhere I went," he says. Since then, he's graduated to building coffee tables and chairs and incorporating metal, leather, graffiti, and even brass knuckles into his designs. Big-name clients such as Christina Aguilera and Carey Hart came calling, and Nemeth recently completed pieces for the new nightclub at the Las Vegas Hard Rock and is currently working on a bar owned in part by Tommy Lee. Word of his insanely detailed work (look closely for skulls) has traveled so far and fast that he's had to turn down new orders until December.
Tattoo themes such as dice and skulls pop up in Nemeth's designs, so it's no surprise he's tattooed. "I got my first tattoo 10 years ago in Texas. It's the Jack Daniel's logo because I drink. Very heavily," he explains. Sticking with the things he loves, Nemeth got a '49 Lincoln Mercury on his left biceps to pump him up for when he eventually buys the real thing. His favorite piece is a schematic of a motorcycle transmission he got four years ago from Ray Jerez, from Inborn Tattoo in New York City. "It's an exploded view with numbers and diagram lines," he says. "I just thought it would be a cool-ass tattoo." Matching the theme, he's got a motor-piston blueprint by Anil Gupta from Inkline Studio on his right forearm. Next, he plans to go to Southeast Asia for a traditional back piece. Then there's his idea for a pinup girl on his side. And then, "Fuck, I just can't imagine stopping," he says like a giddy teenager.
Despite his boozy lifestyle, Nemeth insists his days are fairly predictable: "I wake up, go home, get to work, and raise hell at night." His hell-raising has now warranted the shooting of a television pilot. "I had a party in May. It was like a fucking three-ring circus. Apparently a TV producer was there, and he thought I was out of my mind and wanted to shoot a pilot. So, we're shooting a pilot." Note to producers: No shoots before noon.