Paulo Bacchi's Handmade Empire
by stephanie murg
A little over a decade ago, Paulo Bacchi was just another tourist savoring Miami during a summer getaway with his wife, Lais. “We were supposed to stay two weeks, and we stayed two months,” says the São Paulo native and father of twin boys. “That’s when I decided to move here.” The attractions were clear: Miami’s quality of life (“We went from bulletproof cars to convertibles”) and the favorable growth prospects it offered for his family business, the Brazilian furniture company Artefacto, where he is now president of US operations.
After extensive market research, Bacchi set his sights on Coral Gables, then still a luxury retail hub in the making. He sold his home in São Paulo, convinced his father to come out of retirement to oversee operations in Brazil, and—in 2002—opened a showroom on Ponce de Leon Boulevard. There was no looking back.
Today, Artefacto is a go-to company for South Florida interior designers, developers, and residents who connect with its clean-lined mix of contemporary and classic pieces that range from sculptural metal seating to sleek tables made in Brazil from sustainably harvested woods. “Artefacto means handmade, an artifact,” explains Bacchi. “Our roots are in natural materials—leather, linen, cotton—and we keep things clean and bright, which is a good fit for the Miami weather that also makes a room look bigger.”
But it’s more the signature “warm contemporary” style that has made Artefacto one of Brazil’s most promising exports. Bacchi has long prioritized superior service and speedy delivery—a rarity in the high-end furniture business. “Our reputation since day one was that we deliver on time,” he explains. At its inception, the company stocked a nearby warehouse, found a way to turn around even custom upholstery orders in a matter of days or weeks rather than months, and didn’t hesitate to pay for air freight from Brazil to avoid a late delivery. “Our huge inventory has been a big part of our success,” Bacchi says. “When people come here to Miami, most of the units are second or third homes. Buyers want immediate gratification.”
Bacchi’s commitment to customer service is a personal one. “In the first two years, I only took two days off, working from Sunday to Sunday,” he says. “That was the price I had to pay to establish our reputation. ‘Minding the store’ made all the difference.”
With his hands-on management style and devotion to the company his father founded in 1976, Bacchi has steered Artefacto’s US operations through good times and bad. He followed the Coral Gables showroom with a spate of store openings: in Washington, DC, and Atlanta, as well as West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. But just as the Artefacto name was making its way up the East Coast, the recession and housing slump forced Bacchi to reverse course. He acted decisively, closing those four stores and retrenching in Miami. “In our business, we depend on real estate,” he says. “When the market crashed, things were crazy. Many developers lost a lot of projects.” Bacchi rode out the recession in Coral Gables and opened an Aventura location in 2011 as a temporary outlet to consolidate inventory.
While the real estate market heats up, Artefacto’s Brazilian cachet and fast delivery have once again made Bacchi something of a developer’s darling. “Before the financial crisis, I already had a good synergy with the developers,” he says. “But for sure, after 2008, as Brazilians became the biggest buyers, I became the most popular guy in town.” Artefacto was tapped to furnish model residences in developments such as Icon Brickell, Capri South Beach, Paramount Bay, and the Trump Tower in Sunny Isles Beach. The dazzling two-bedroom, Artefactoappointed penthouse at the Marquis sold in just two weeks.
Bacchi has also strengthened ties with interior designers through the Artefacto Design House, a yearlong event that showcases a range of designer-created vignettes in the Coral Gables showroom. The second iteration opens on July 2. Just 10 days later, Bacchi will preside over the grand opening of Artefacto Home, a continued from page 95 42,000-square-foot showroom that will replace the original Aventura space. “We consider this our 10thanniversary store,” he says, walking a visitor through the two-story building—a gut renovation of the former Filene’s Basement that boasts enviable bay views. “We’re not just selling furniture. We’re selling the whole concept of a home.”
Further expansion is practically inevitable, but with a decade in Miami under his belt, Bacchi is taking some time to appreciate it all. “We have the big opening in Aventura, and our 25 locations in Brazil are running at full capacity,” he says. “We’re really focused on enjoying the good time now.”
photography by andres hernandez (tiger, table); ben shavi (bacchi)
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.