When an architect and a designer team up, what do you get? In the case of Norberto Grundland and Patricia Arango, clients get a design team that creates custom built-ins and furniture courtesy of the duo’s 30-year-old brainchild, Manufacturing by SKEMA.
Born in Argentina and raised primarily in Italy, Norberto Grundland became something of a renaissance man, diving deep into the multitiered business of design and architecture. After working intimately with many masters of these trades, Grundland acquired an architecture degree and went on to work and live in several countries across the globe. His travels eventually brought him to Florida in the early ’80s, where he met Patricia Arango, a flourishing designer originally from Colombia with an architectural background and a degree in interior design.
In 1988, Arango and Grundland, in collaboration with his late father, Fausto Grundland, founded Manufacturing by SKEMA Inc., housing it within a workshop in Davie, Florida, and setting up strategic partnerships with various ateliers in Central and South America. The creative team set out to develop high-end, custom built-ins, kitchens, home offices and bathroom vanities, as well as specialty millwork requests, for local and international clients.
After decades of manufacturing multimedia entertainment centers, SKEMA is introducing its latest innovation, media furniture that includes a revolutionary, patented builtin speaker system, called SOUNDWHERE®.
“Customers were supplying high-end, stand-alone speakers and requesting that they be hidden into their TV and media center furniture,” says Grundland. “As a result, the speakers’ performance was greatly hindered by the ‘box within a box’ effect. The use of sound bars, grills or speaker cloth compromised the media furniture’s appearance and functionality. SOUNDWHERE became the answer to this dilemma.”
SOUNDWHERE integrates a patented, high-end entertainment breakthrough technology inside the furniture while maintaining the quality of audio. Grundland says: “It is sound that can be heard but not seen. It’s a blend of aesthetics and practicality in the design of beautiful media room furniture. The stealthily placed speaker system is artfully hidden from view yet provides unmatched audio, due to the patented Aesthetic Linear Speaker Assembly.”
SKEMA, in collaboration with its audio expert, Evenecer Garcia, has perfected and refined the patented technology. “Not only are we utilizing SOUNDWHERE in custom built-ins, but we are also placing it within newly designed, freestanding furniture,” says Grundland. “Consoles and wall units that can be purchased, tailored to specifications and finishes.”
Maintaining relationships is key for Grundland and Arango, who intentionally keep their operation small. Clients appreciate that intimacy because they deal directly with Grundland and Arango, instead of staffers, allowing the design team to be responsive and nimble.
“Through Patty’s and my combined expertise, we can provide designers, architects and audio/ video consultants with solutions for projects where uniqueness in design has to match the quality in sound,” says Grundland. “There are a lot of interesting things we can do.”
Today, Arango and Grundland are looking forward to the future of SKEMA and plan to grow their company into something that will stretch far beyond their dreams in design innovation and technology.
Alaena Hostetter is a Dallas-based journalist who writes about her favorite things: art, design, culture, music, entertainment and food.