Ricky TeeVee: Design Inspired By Daughter

In 2015, Greenport native Ricky Saetta tapped into his talents as a carpenter to create a crib for his newborn daughter, Dakota, and a specially designed name sign to go with it. At the time, it was merely a creative outlet, born out of his years in the construction business.

“My dad was a carpenter so I learned woodworking from him,” Saetta explained. But once friends saw his work they began requesting name signs for their own children. In an instant, Dakota became the catalyst to her father’s new side venture. “I wanted to make things for her, to create a magical world that we all craved as children. From there it naturally developed into design/building businesses,” he said. Then, in 2018, Saetta turned his side hobby into a full-time operation, turning woodwork into wonderlands.

Saetta, artistically referred to as Ricky TeeVee (formerly recognized as Estd.1981), uses woodworking or up-cycled materials as his medium. Known for his retro style, his creations can be found all across Long Island — The Times Vintage in Greenport, White Flower Farmhouse in Southold, Uber Geek Brewing and North Fork Brewing Company in Riverhead, all three Lucharitos locations, South Quarter in Sayville, and NoFoDoCo in Bay Shore. His work also expands to personal homes, and eager scavenger hunters may even find driftwood cassette tapes left behind at local beaches.

Ricky TeeVee and Lizzie Sweigart at The Times Vintage. Photos courtesy Ricky TeeVee.

Each display is an optical time machine, taking observers back to the eras of yesteryear. Three dimensional, vibrantly designed colors and cutouts, replicas of a bygone era. Repurposed TV sets, vinyl records, arcade machines, a camper bed, comic themes, Walkmans, flowers, all either recreated or repurposed.

“I have very deep nostalgic vibes. Something about the music and design of the ’70s and ’80s that strikes a deep cord for me,” Saetta said. But transporting oneself into a time warp takes concentration, self-described as “torture and obsessive,” “hyper critical and consumed.”

To hone in on the decade, Saetta immerses himself in period-appropriate music and movies. He then dives into a sea of nothingness before inspiration hits. It’s a multistage process of design and complexity. “It’s really passion based. If it sounds like an exciting or challenging project then I throw myself into it wholeheartedly.”

Ricky TeeVee. Photos courtesy Ricky TeeVee

Through his relationship with The Times Vintage owner, Lizzie Sweigart, Saetta was able to study vintage styles of the ’50s and ’60s, an unexplored timeframe to his present-day, and more personally relatable, nostalgia. “I adapted my style of building and artistry to someone else’s aesthetic. That rustic farmhouse vibe is not my style but I loved the challenge of marrying the two of us. I really feel like I created a perfect expression of her style there without compromising mine,” Saetta explained. “Clients see my work at Times Vintage and they too want a retro place.”

As he explores more modern design, aiming to break out of the retro box, he prefers clients with a laissez-faire attitude that allow him full freedom to work.

“I want to create magical awe-inspiring places. I want to make experiences that brighten people’s days, lasting memories,” Saetta said.

Whether it’s for a child or the inner child within, Saetta, aka Ricky TeeVee, crafts visual creations that unlock heartfelt simplicity within. Each one-of-a-kind piece brings him back to his daughter, as though we’re all seeing the world through innocent eyes once again.

Nicole Teitler

Nicole Teitler is an award-winning journalist from Long Island, better known professionally as Nikki On The Daily™. She has reported for numerous publications but is mostly remembered by her work for Hamptons based publication, The Independent Newspaper. In addition to her love of writing, Nicole is an animal rescue and wildlife advocate. In her spare time, she can be found guzzling coffee, hiking, or trying new restaurants. Follow @nikkionthedaily / www.nikkionthedaily.com

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