Árpád Rostás, cabinetmaker and restorer, has worked in 200 castles and restored 1000 pieces of furniture both home and abroad over 36 years. He has roamed all over Western Europe. The outstanding achievements of his life’s work are the repairs and restoration work carried out in the Louvre, the Hungarian Parliament or at the Academy of Science. However, there are many other building components that were in a hopelessly dangerous state that have been returned to their original condition specifically because of his personal contribution to the project, for example in Versailles, where he repaired and restored the Sun King’s parquet floor.
He holds a number of Commendations and Awards, amongst which he received the Hungarian Heritage Award in 2011 as an acknowledgement of his work carried out 10 years previously when he restored the Neo-Renaissance timber cladding of the Hungarian Academy of Science. The honorary citizenship of Kaposvár is another outstanding achievement. He was also nominated for the privately organised Prima Primissima Award, which is the greatest honour in Hungary.
Rostás claims that one can only learn effectively through practical training and therefore he extended his education for many years by applying for jobs in carpentry. This was not always an easy task as his ‘teachers’ often kept their most valuable tricks and techniques as their most prized possessions, so as a youngster he also had to be expedient to be able to gather such precious knowledge. He was so thirsty for knowledge that as soon as he learnt all that was possible he would ask the master to recommend him to another carpenter. Most of the time he only asked for food and accommodation as a salary. If he had the opportunity he would even pay for training. Even when he was an expert craftsman he was not ashamed to be a ‘novice’ and later on too, if he had the chance, he worked for some older and more experienced professionals.
Natural Solutions – instead of Chemicals
One of the keys to success in his work is the home-made recipes made from natural materials that he uses for the treatment of wood to control the pests to strengthen the timber and to restore the original state. The materials used are tailored to the given piece of furniture or timber construction and the various ingredients are based on the characteristics and scale of the problem. Every recipe comes from the disappearing, but in places still surviving, traditions and historic descriptions from for example, the books of Vitruvius, so some techniques can even be traced back to Ancient Egypt. The exact methodologies and experiments with the proportions took decades to perfect and are professional secrets now. In using these materials he often has serious arguments with timber preservation experts because in their profession they are accustomed to using chemically produced materials and solutions. He goes against the trend much of the time and has gained results that give legitimacy and meaning to these efforts.
Rescuing and restoring the ceiling of the Mirror Room at Andrássy University is a very good example of the success of his techniques. In 2003, when the University was refurbished, the ceiling of the room fell down and work stopped for 6 months as there was no restorer who would accept the challenge of its restoration, until it popped into someone’s mind that there was a travelling carpenter in Marcali. He was able to use his own methods to demonstrate quite quickly that there was dry rot present, a diagnosis which equalled a death sentence and this was later confirmed by a timber preservation expert. In the end, Rostás restored the structure. Before he arrived on the scene, he got rid of the disease from the structure and substituted the missing timber material thereby strengthening it.
Ambassador for Traditional Carpentry
In recent years Árpád Rostás has paid great attention to making furniture that he has designed himself. He plans to work mainly as a cabinetmaker. Only the greatest masters match his ideals in these lofty ambitions, such as Michelangelo. Some of his completed custom-made pieces have attracted the interest of the media as well as donations of gifts to well known people. For example, cradles made as gifts for the children of the British Royal Couple, William and Kate, for George and later in 2015, for Princess Charlotte. The unique, Neogothic style cradles are made of oak and nut-wood and decorated with inlay-work. The giving of Charlotte’s cradle took place in St Peter’s Basilica, Budapest.
Árpád Rostás’s School and Textbook
Árpád’s career has further important goals to ensure the survival of centuries-old handicraft traditions, carpentry and cabinet-making techniques for future generations. He is currently working on putting together a comprehensive textbook which summarises all the knowledge which he has gathered over his lifetime through his work and will put teaching of the profession on a new level. He truly believes that his career can be a example to follow for those young people whose fate is similar to his own childhood. He organises a summer school and workshops every year for orphan children, where he gets them involved in restoration and building activities. With this, he can show that learning a trade is worth sacrifice.
Services included among other stuff:
- Clean, treat, disinfect, conserve, restore and renovate antique furnitures. Including mother of pearl, copper / brass and bone works.
- Interiors and furnitures restoring / renovating and making of Castles and Temples.
- Monument locks making, restoration and renovating.
- Design and Build Cabinetries in any style.
- Unique Carpentiere works.
- Carrige making, restoring.
- Restoring organs and pianos.
- Design, build and restore any king of jobs related to marquetry.
- Decorative paintings of wood, stone and plaster surfaces.
- Lead glass making and restoring.
- Coinage works.
- Gilding works.