Anthony Salerno Talks Peter Salerno, TopBrewer, AMS Knifeworks & More
Our ongoing series of official interviews with the staff of Peter Salerno Inc. continues this month with Anthony Michael Salerno, sales coordinator and design associate for the company. As Peter Salerno Inc. has grown into the most awarded national design firm in the United States since 2003 (by the NKBA), the demand for new sales and designs has skyrocketed. Anthony’s job has become more demanding – and rewarding – than ever.
Of course, Anthony Salerno’s roots to the company have existed since birth – Anthony is the son of master designer Peter Salerno, and the grandson of master cabinetry and woodwork designer Rosolino Salerno. As the third generation of Salernos running the family business in America, Anthony offers a unique perspective on the growth of Peter Salerno Inc.
We sat down with Anthony to discuss Peter Salerno Inc., his passion for knife and sword crafting, his knowledge of TopBrewer and La Cornue, and the music playlist that helps him get through the workday.
Interview with Anthony Salerno of Peter Salerno Inc.
1. You’ve visited your father’s design office and showroom since you were a child. What’s your fondest memory of your dad’s office from childhood?
Anthony Michael Salerno (AMS): My earliest memory was actually at my grandfathers cabinet shop before my father opened up Peter Salerno Inc. My cousins and I would go to the shop on Christmas Eve when they would have a big party during lunch. Tables would be rigged up across the shop with benches, customers would come with accordions and guitars to eat and play music while homemade wine was being served out of gallon jugs. When everyone at the party had a few glasses of wine in them and weren’t paying attention my cousins and I would sneak into the back shop and run around all the machinery, hide inside cabinets, and see who could sweep a path through the sawdust the quickest. To this day the smell of saw dust still makes me nostalgic.
2. What is your current role at Peter Salerno Inc.?
AMS: Currently I design and handle sales. I also handle La Cornue and TopBrewer sales. I’m our office’s TopBrewer expert, so I field any calls about it and show clients how the machine works and how to use it. More recently I’ve been working on new cabinet styles, moldings, and finishes exclusive to our company with my father.
3. We’ve visited your offices, and know how hard you work. What’s the toughest part of your job that people may not realize?
AMS: I’ve found a lot of people don’t realize the initial work that goes into their design. Being a totally custom company, when somebody hands us a plan, we draw out the walls and then start from scratch with the design. You have to imagine yourself walking through the space and seeing how you can interact with it. It’s like getting a piece of paper and having to create a puzzle from it, first you think of the design and style and sketch it out, then you carve out all the puzzle pieces and make sure they fit.
4. What’s the one thing that gets you excited to go to the office, even on days you’re dragging?
AMS: Knowing that I’ll be creating something that will end up in someone’s home. When you start the process with a client it’s a blank canvas and you know nothing about each other, through the design process you get to know your clients and put pieces of their personality and inspirations into the design. It starts with a meeting and a couple of free-hand sketches, then moves to 2-D rectangles on the floorplan, then gains detail and beauty with 2-D elevations, becomes real with hand-drawn 3-D renderings, and finally is brought to life when it’s in a clients home. For a lot of people it’s a very important and personal process, it’s always great to be a part of that.
5. You often listen to music while you work. What are a few great songs that are on your work playlist now?
AMS: My playlist will change throughout the day depending on what I’m working on. I like to start the day at 7 am with the Elvis Duran Show and get a couple of laughs in. Once 10 am hits I usually switch to “The Edge” radio out of Texas (thanks to iheartradio), I listen to some of their alternative rock for another hour to hour and a half and then it usually progresses into metal/symphonic metal and it’s all about Nightwish, Blind Guardian, and Sonata Artica powering me through the afternoon. On high-stress days it may switch to Andrea Bocelli and some classical orchestras. Being a classically trained musician my taste is very vast so there’s usually some variation from day-to-day.
6. Outside of Peter Salerno Inc., you’re also the owner of a custom knifework studio (AMS Knifeworks). How does what your father taught you about design lend itself to your custom knife design work?
AMS: I’ve always loved designing knives, swords, and jewelry – I even picked up a minor in it while at college. For me the design isn’t enough, I need to create functional pieces of art with my hands. We don’t have a shop behind the building like my grandfather had, so I created my own metal shop at home. I take the two necessities of design I learned from my father and apply it to my knives, beauty and functionality. That along with having an extensive knowledge of finishes, woods, and their properties gives me an edge when creating a new piece. Knowing all the different kitchen styles definitely helps when I’m making chefs’ knives as well, I may have one for someone with a very traditional kitchen, and I may have one for a very contemporary kitchen.
7. What’s on the horizon for Peter Salerno Inc. that has you particularly excited?
AMS: With new appliances, new door styles & moldings, and new finishes, it’s a really exciting time to be designing. With the release of Houzz and Pinterest, there has been an influx of people who want to break out of the box with the designs for their home. Breaking out of the box is what we do best (and what we geared our showroom towards) so it’s a very exciting time to be a part of a company that doesn’t believe in boxes and is constantly pushing the limits of design.