While Dan Termini and Timothy Mellema have been in the lighting and fabrication business for a long time, it’s their newest venture that they get to call their own.
Trella, an amalgam of their two last names, is a new lighting line designed and fabricated by the pair in their Brooklyn studio.
Termini and Mellema first met while working at a Brooklyn metal fabrication shop. Termini was newly hired for a position that Mellema had been waiting for, even though Mellema had been working in the shop “for five years,” he remembers with a joking bitterness. But soon the two were working on projects together, and even rented out a shared studio space to work on their individual ambitions.
This shared, airplane-hangar-like space resulted in the founding Hangar Design Studios in 2012. At Hangar, the new team created custom metal furnishings for clients, relying on their connections with designers in New York to turn the venture into a full-time job.
Eventually one of the duo’s biggest clients, Studio van den Akker, needed a new collection for their showroom, and the Hangar founders saw an opportunity to create a line of products completely their own.
“Hangar had been our playground to discover and experiment and really get in tune with our process,” Termini says. “It led us to the opportunity to pitch to the gallery. And about two years later we’ve released the line and it’s selling in the showroom.”
The Trella line is notable for its use of materials—the designing team relies on their experience with metal-working to creating brass and bronze fixtures with rich colorful patinas and textured etches. The pieces are also made with an attention to function.
“It’s a complete fusion of form and function being thought of simultaneously,” Termini says. “It’s that constant back-and-forth between how it looks, how it functions, and how it’s assembled.”
Mellema’s favorite Trella piece is the Benedict sconce, made up of two nested bowls, because of its androgynously broad design appeal. Termini, on the other hand, prefers the Dixie chandelier, because it leaves room for experimenting with different finishes and glass colors.
This experimentation is possible because of Trella’s flexible production process, perfected through the partners’ custom design experience at Hangar. They and their close-knit team of three employees produce the parts for their base fixtures separately in small batches, but don’t assemble them until they get an order. This allows clients to customize the colors and configuration of the fixture without the full cost of a one-of-a-kind piece.
And whatever they can’t do themselves, they outsource to other local New York shops whom they know and trust. This makes every Trella piece an authentic, made-in-NY product.
“Every piece is authentic, because it’s derived from our process and our techniques that we have,” Termini says.
The Trella line can be seen at Studio van den Akker, online and in-person.