(Note: This story appears in the November 2021 issue of ED Magazine)

HRR Custom Designs is not just helping clubs put butts back in gorgeous, custom-made seats — it’s elevating your club’s whole aesthetic and adding revenue for your operations in the process.

To gaze up in awe at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome is to behold Michelangelo’s magnum opus, the time-consuming, back-breaking strokes of mastery that color scenes from the Book of Genesis among other Biblical narratives.

In Columbus, Ohio, Riccardo Tagliavia can admire his own Sistine Chapel of sorts: a 35-foot by 18-foot, 8-foot tall, L-shaped, diamond-tufted couch in the gentlemen’s club Rumors. It’s a bit smaller than the chapel interior’s approximate 134-feet-by-46-feet dimensions, but is no less mind-blowing.

“A good 75% of my clients say they want something like that without realizing its size,” says Tagliavia, founder and owner of furniture manufacturing company HRR Custom Designs. “So far, it’s the biggest couch we’ve ever built.”

Tagliavia is armed with his own team of Renaissance men and women: carpenters, upholsterers, fabric cutters and more, who engage in their craft with the same meticulousness and zeal as Donatello or da Vinci.

“This is a job you can do only if you love it, because basically it’s art to build the couch, upholster the couch, do the right tufting, everything that goes into furniture — those are things that are very tedious for most people,” says Tagliavia. “But these guys just love it. You get in my shop, and there is music in the background and you hear the staple guns going and everybody’s smiling. I give all the credit to the people that work here. I surrounded myself with people that are better than me to do things I can’t do. People like Claudia, who does an outstanding job managing operations. On the floor, I have Antonio who can do everything from carpentry to fabric cutting. They take a lot of pride in what they do.”

Tagliavia’s warehouse isn’t the only place chock full of smiles. HRR has clients grinning ear to ear nationwide — from The Penthouse Club to Perfect 10 to Bucks Cabaret to the Pony Clubs, among a slew of others.

“That’s the caliber of client I keep, which confirms we’re doing a good job and customers are happy with what we do,” says Tagliavia.

As he proudly explains, the majority of HRR’s customers come from referrals. “For me, referrals are an additional incentive to over- deliver, because when somebody puts their name out in support of my name, I have to honor that as well,” Tagliavia adds.

First impressions
Typically, HRR’s first interaction is a phone conversation discussing the customer’s vision and the needs of the business.

“What is the objective? For some, it’s to ‘refresh,’ creating new revenue drivers, new business, etc.,” says HRR’s Katie Tagliavia. “From there, we begin to guide you through the product selections that would meet the desired objectives. We have an assortment of classic seating along with the ability to create any custom design created specifically for each customer. Many customers come with specific colors or patterns, but we have plenty of samples and suggestions that we send to clients to see firsthand and decide.”

If the project in question is more complex (such as a foundational change), HRR will come on-site to walk the space, take measurements and overall share in the customer’s vision for the space; such as how to fit the most booths or tables or chairs to maximize per-guest profit and ultimate return of investment (ROI).

Tagliavia says it’s easier for him to visit clubs to see the space through the potential guest’s eyes. Prepared quotes include dimensions, fabric choices, pricing and timeline details.

“Every project is different,” says Tagliavia. “Communication throughout the project has been critical to our success. We like to keep in touch.

“At any point in time, you know what’s happening with your furniture,” he continues. “I don’t just take the order and then call you to say, ‘Look, this
is ready.’ No, I communicate. That’s my job — make the client confident in HRR Custom Designs, while maintaining our quality and price point.”

Tagliavia stresses, however, that he doesn’t interject with his own opinions. “My job is to deliver my clients what

they want,” he says. “If then they ask me, ‘Riccardo, do you think we could do something different here?’ Then I give an answer. For example, if instead of making these couches 42 inches, we make them 38 inches — now we’re shaving four inches off the couch, which will allow me to fit an additional piece. That’s how I explain it, but I never say, ‘Oh no, you should do it this way,
or it must be done this other way.’ The customer is always right. They know their clientele. They know the people that work there. I advise on things that make sense geometrically.”

“My job is to deliver my clients what they want. For example, if, instead of making these couches 42 inches, we make them 38 inches — now we’re shaving off four inches off the couch, which will allow me to fit an additional piece. That’s how I explain it, but I never say, ‘Oh no, you should do it this way, or it must be done this other way.’ The customer is always right. They know their clientele.” — Riccardo Tagliavia

A new place to call “home”
October 1, 2021 will go down as a seminal day for HRR Custom Designs. It marks the date the company relocated into a new, more intimate place of operations.

When HRR was launched in January 2018, Tagliavia was able to sublet empty warehouse space from a company he had worked with previously. As the calendar flipped to 2021, HRR started entertaining relocation.

“We were shooting to be in the new space by Q4 and we hit that target,” says Katie. “The new space will allow us more flexibility with how to utilize the space and an opportunity to set up our offices and create a showroom area.”

Katie adds the new space will also streamline operations resulting in more consistent best practices and better deliverables on all fronts to customers.

“This is the ideal space,” says Tagliavia. “There is an amazing flow now from the beginning — supply chain and material that is delivered to carpentry, to upholstery to sewing to staging and then to packing and loading.”

The “warhorse” of club furniture
In Italian, it’s cavallo di battaglia. That means “warhorse.” In club furniture, that is the ol’ reliable barrel chair. As Riccardo explains, the barrel chair may be one piece of furniture, but when HRR makes it, it opens clients to the rest of the company’s repertoire and tailor-made expertise.

That doesn’t mean an old horse can’t learn a new trick. HRR plans to unveil a redesign of the barrel chair, the “Club Chair,” at Silver City Cabaret (Dallas) toward the end of this month.

HRR’s new “ideal” space for designing and building custom furniture.

“Over the last year, we’ve been in lockdown — almost a new era of Prohibition if you will — so we’ve been inspired
by a lot of designs from the gentleman’s clubs of the early 20th century Prohibition era,” says Katie. “The Club Chair is a timeless design that has gone through various iterations over the years and continues to offer an elegant addition to any club.”

From HRR’s point of view, COVID didn’t just usher in in
a lockdown, it altered gentlemen’s club’s furniture trends including a heightened demand for vinyl products because it is more easily cleaned.

Katie also points to a return to more crushed velvets and larger build-outs as people feel more secure about the ability to keep business fully operational heading into 2022. HRR has not only witnessed a change in the furniture itself, but the décor and presentation clubs are offering.

“New furniture can provide an uplift to the club that permeates through the entire environment,” says Katie. “When the environment is elevated, the experience is elevated and this results in elevated revenue. Additionally, new furniture can be used to highlight and maximize your revenue driving areas of the club — be it private booths, champagne couches, VIP rooms or stage-front presentations.”

Tagliavia concurs.

“People are looking to improve the look and quality of their whole club image-wise,” he says. “It’s nice to enter a club where the chairs are all aligned and the stools are the same height and the fabrics are all the same color — making it into a gentlemen’s club more than a strip joint.”

For more information, visit hrrcustomdesigns.com or call (617) 899-8615.

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