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Steve Nagy’s versatility fuels Functional Artwork

Photo By Brian Tietz

It’s art, but it’s also a chandelier. It’s art, but it’s also a dresser. Steve Nagy’s creations are a mix of creativity and practicality.

“It’s all art,” he says. “But most of my art serves a purpose.”

Nagy’s Functional Artwork has become a staple in the Shirley Street Art Galleria in the Naples Art District. He says he likes to create pieces that you can’t find in any store, such as that blue chandelier made from four pieces of carved foam that resembles a raindrop splashing. Or the dresser that has tree branches for legs.

He works in wood, foam, glass and metal. He’s learned to work with all materials because each has its limitations. He lets the idea dictate the material, not the other way around.

Nagy works mostly with clients to create custom pieces, getting together to exchange ideas before he goes to work in his studio. The goal: Create something that’s never been made before. “That’s why I do this, that’s what challenges me,” he says. “I like creating things that you can’t just go find a video on YouTube about how to make it.”

His career has had some twists and turns: The Naples native started out as an engineer, then he became a therapist. Then he started house painting and doing tile work. That led to him doing antique furniture repair, and about 15 years ago, he started creating his own pieces.

Now that he’s got a firm grasp of the materials, he likes to push himself to new heights. He once had a conversation with a client who remarked about the need to “keep up with the Joneses” when it came to design trends. “Keeping up with the Joneses?” he responded in his usual affable manner. “I’m the guy who makes the Joneses jealous.”

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