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By Drew Limsky | Photo: by Nick Garcia | October 2, 2018
When top interior designers stop by Artefacto, every one of them has a story about the Brazilian brand. To them, Artefacto may represent a key part of their professional history. A piece may count as a source of profound inspiration. And a memory of a collaboration can seem like a family reminiscence.
“When you walk into the showroom,” says Artefacto CEO Paulo Bacchi, “I want you to think, This is how I want to live; this is how I want to feel.”
To interior designer Mirtha Arriaran, what the 42-year-old Brazilian brand feels like can be summed up in three words: quality, durability and elegance. To illustrate, she tells the story of clients who, after owning Artefacto’s furniture for many years, requested only a change in reupholstery in order to maintain the beauty of the Artefacto lines. “From the time I lived in Brazil—I moved to the U.S. more than 25 years ago—if we talked about the best furniture, Artefacto was the reference for it,” she says. That sort of devotion has proven contagious: Scores of designers chart their careers—and clients cite their homes—as inextricably linked to Artefacto, which was founded by Paulo’s father, Albino Bacchi, in Sao Paulo. The younger Bacchi, strapping and darkly handsome, began working for the company when he was just 18.
Though Artefacto has two Miami-area showrooms—in Aventura and Doral, with a third, built by DOMO Architecture + Design, ready to open in Coral Gables—thoughts of the brand’s Brazilian roots are never far behind. (There are 25 locations in Brazil.) “When I was a girl in Brazil, I would ask my mother to take me to the Artefacto store on the weekends so I could dream about having their furniture in my designs one day,” says interior designer Luciana Fragali. “I was about 13 years old and I already knew I wanted to be an architect but had a passion for interior design.” When Fragali launched her career in Miami, it dovetailed with Bacchi’s: “When he really took over the family business and shifted the direction of the operations, he made it more dynamic and creative, and Artefacto reached a new high.” Now every Fragali project contains at least one Artefacto piece.
Artefacto colored the formative years of designer Daniela Saliba, as well. “Artefacto always has had a very strong influence on me, even when I was still living in Brazil,” she recalls. “When I started working as an interior designer in Miami, we did not have as many choices for high-quality, creative furniture.” In 2002, when Sabila learned Artefacto was coming to the U.S., she went to see Paulo in person during one of her visits to Brazil. That meeting led to an enduring friendship with the Bacchis. “For sure I was their first customer in Miami, even before they officially opened for business,” she says. “In those early days, I remember that I couldn’t see the items I was buying—I had to choose the pieces from a black-and-white calendar that was being used for employee training. However, I was very confident that I was buying beautiful, high-class furniture.”
Clearly, Bacchi has cultivated a coterie of local designers that dates back to the brand’s early days in Brazil. More than a few, like Marisol Pinto, have participated multiple times in Artfacto’s Design House and think of Artefacto as family. But Bacchi has also won over a flock of more recent devotees. Joe Fava has been sourcing furniture from Artefacto since 2012 and has used the Flicker chair, Eos mirror and Prada ottoman in various homes. “Artefacto’s product line offers a sophisticated design aesthetic, with stunning pieces individually, that meld seamlessly into our projects, both in Florida and outside of the state,” he says.
“Currently we are thrilled to be incorporating the brass coffee table set into a stunning great room and the Pipa lounge chair into what will be a chic billiard room.”
The theme of needing the perfect piece and finding it at Artefacto recurs among the designers. “My favorite piece of the 2018 collection is the versatile Carlo component table,” says Charlotte Dunagan. “This unique assembly of six different coffee tables can be specified in so many finishes. From mirror, stone and lacquer to many metallics, the possibilities that this table offers are endless. I can’t wait to showcase it in our upcoming project.”
Fanny Haim, who was immediately drawn to the Tom Dixon pendants in the front of the showroom, says that it was another key Artefacto piece that enabled her to finish a job. “The project asked for a small, flowing sofa, and we found one in Artefacto that completed the space,” she recalls. “Fortuitously, it had the right scale and proportion, and just enough curviness to soften the room and complement the rest of the seating.” And when Sarah Zohar needed some “really edgy accent pieces” for a client with eclectic, contemporary tastes, she brought them to Artefacto’s showroom: “It felt like we were in an art museum. Our client chose a Flush dining table, Conrad dining chairs and an Argon sofa.”
It’s gratifying to Bacchi that designers are moved to compare his furniture to works of art. Such praise is especially meaningful to him given the brand’s connection to his homeland. “Our pieces are heavily influenced by Brazilian culture and craftsmanship, using the best organic materials and textures from nature,” he says. To walk the showroom is to hear the sounds of the Brazilian rainforest, to see in the pieces the fluid movements of capoeira. And Bacchi has brought that unique sensibility to turnkey residences in One Thousand Museum, Palazzo Del Sol, Porsche Design Tower, Surf Club Four Seasons and Fendi Chateau. Thus, intensely local Brazilian themes have infused Miami’s design vocabulary. Currently, Artefacto is staging estates on Miami Beach’s Pine Tree Drive, in La Gorce and on North Bay Road, as well as condos in Jade Signature and Park Grove.
“The genius of Paulo Bacchi is that he brought a Brazilian brand to the U.S. and transformed it into the powerhouse we know today by making it easy for designers to specify his products and for clients to purchase them,” says designer Suzana Azevedo. “There are different styles of furnishings to suit every client’s taste—you can find the modern, Italian design-inspired pieces, such as the Poline dining chair, along with showstopping sculptural pieces, such as the Lolo chaise lounge, all right next to the classics.”
But Azevedo cultivates a special connection to one piece. When she was a child, her parents were avid clients of the brand. “I vividly remember sitting in our living room as a teen and thinking, I’m going to steal this sofa when I have my own apartment!” she recalls. “Little did I know then that the sofa was the now-iconic Zimmer sofa. Fast-forward some 20 years later, and as an interior designer, I have a new appreciation for the brand.” And a Zimmer sofa of her own—no theft necessary.