Ray Culin - Principal
It is not a surprise that Ray Culin is a master architectural designer and exquisite craftsman. He has been designing and building his whole life. His father was an Architect with an artistic flair, whose many credits include the famous 1939 New York World’s Fair poster. Ray’s grandfather was one of the “doctors of the west”; who lived in Coquille, Oregon. He was the first person in the county to own a car and a power boat, which he used to treat his patients. Also in the family is Professor Stewart Culin, (1858-1929) the Indian Ethnologist, who worked as the curator for the Brooklyn Museum from 1903-1929. (www.brooklynmuseum.com, under Collections and Art of the Americas).
Like his father, Ray studied architecture, but he also majored in furniture design, and graduated with a BFA in Furniture Design from Rhode Island School of Design in 1973. Then he began drafting intricate deck layouts, gazebos and poolside structures for Armand Benedek, the highly acclaimed landscape architect of Bedford, New York.
Within 3 years he left to pursue designing and building decks and additions. He formed Culin Company, which focused on cabinet and furniture making, as well as architectural woodworking and paneling, in the New York metropolitan area. He often worked for Debbie Reiser, an architectural designer with a minimal sensibility. That would prove to be an important relationship, not only for his career, but personally, as well. She would be the one to introduce him to his future wife and business partner, Janis Colella.
Ray incorporated computers into the woodworking business early on. He enjoys bridging traditional techniques with the latest technology. His long time affiliation with Techno, Inc. has proven to be very beneficial for the company, and one of the main reasons efficiency has increased.
Ray is involved in office management, shop drawing and engineering, as well as implementing production techniques and training, especially where programming and CNC are concerned. His expertise in this arena is unparalleled in the industry.
Janis Colella - Principal
Janis Colella, the daughter of a General Motors executive, spent her childhood living and traveling in Central and South America, and the Caribbean. This experience gave her a broader perspective, which helped set the stage for her creative life. As a child, Janis was immediately attracted to art, clay sculpture and music, and pursued both diligently. In 1973, upon graduation from high school in Caracas,Venezuela, she attended the Ringling School of Art, in Sarasota, Florida. There she studied fine arts and design, but also pursued ceramics at the Colson School of Art, along with private sculpture classes with sculptor Leslie Posey, of Art Student’s League fame, in NYC. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Greenwich Connecticut, where she apprenticed with sculptor Stanley Bleifeld, of Westport, Ct. (www.stanleybleifeld.com). In 1976, Bleifeld suggested a trip to Pietrasanta, Italy, to work in a bronze foundry. There she also had the opportunity to work with sculptors like Bruno Lucchesi, and Harry Marinski, at the Tommassi Foundry. There she produced several bronzes, becoming familiar with traditional sculpture and bronze casting methods, in the lost wax process. Upon returning to the United States, she decided to attend SUNY Purchase, where she discovered the wood shop. She focused all her attention on one-of-a kind furniture, and being a designer/maker. She was one of the first women to graduate with a BFA in Woodworking and Furniture Design in 1981, and decided to start Colella Custom Furniture, creating one-of-a-kind, high-end pieces for decorators, interior designers and architects in the New York metropolitan area.
Janis met Ray through the architectural designer Debbie Reiser, in 1984. By 1987 they would marry first, and then merge their businesses, in 1989, to form Culin and Colella, Inc.
Today Janis handles marketing and design, estimates and interprets blueprints by architects and designers, selects materials and creates all the wood finishes for the current projects. She works closely in production with the craftsmen, finishers and installers to assure a top quality job, and sees every detail to the end.