Fabric of life

POLIMENO Nominees is one of the last upholstery businesses in Fremantle.

Their huge South Terrace workshop is a mishmash of fabric swatches and works in progress, including chairs and seats from homes, cars and boats.

Now 58, twins Fernando and Sam Polimeno worked in the family business with dad Guiseppe from an early age.

“We used to come down after school…fixing chairs, staying busy,” Fernando says.

• Giuseppe Polimeno with his sons Sam and Fernando.

“Dad worked until he was about 93; he only stopped a few weeks before he passed.”

Hailing from Calabria, Giuseppe opened the business in 1968 and Fernando and Sam took over the reigns in 1986.

Their first vehicle was a ute, but that was replaced a couple of years later with a red Volkswagen.

• The boys in their Fremantle workshop. Recent photos by Jenny D’Anger

The 1960s VW is still parked in the corner of the workshop, but a newer van has replaced it.

The South Fremantle premises is packed to the rafters, with a variety of jobs on the go.

“We do a bit of everything, from the boating industry to cars, shipping, restaurants and antiques,” Fernando says.

“We even made special rainbow observation beds for children in hospital; the standard blue colour was rather depressing.”

The brothers did the upholstery work for Rose Porteous’ Prix D’Amour, and recently specialised in restoring antique furniture.

“We used to do a lot of stuff, like the making of aprons for those in the fishing and crayfish industry, however with those industries slowing down over time we find ourself doing more and more antiques,” Fernando says.

Traditional methods are used to ensure pieces are restored authentically.

“We strip it right back, pull it apart – we do it all from scratch,” Fernando says.

Retirement isn’t something the twins are contemplating.

“We’re not really in it to make lots of money, it’s more the fact it’s been in the family for so long, I think we’d get bored if we stopped, what would we do? Sit around at home?” Fernando says. 

by JENNY D’ANGER and COURTNEY REISS HALL

Polimeno Nominees
9335 668
235 South Terrace
Fremantle

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