Artefacto's Magic City Success
By Rebecca Wallwork
Owner Paulo Bacchi and wife Lais at Artefacto’s Coral Gables showroom
Inventory” is not a term one would immediately associate with a cutting-edge, Design District-worthy furniture business’ mounting cross-continental success. Yet though it may sound far from sexy, “inventory” in fact has everything to do with the rise of Brazilian manufacturer Artefacto here in Miami. It’s why the upscale, on-demand furniture company is uniquely positioned now, almost 10 years after entering the local market, to take advantage of the Brazilian dominance in Miami real estate.
Artefacto’s owner and president of US operations, Paulo Bacchi, says his Miami warehouse contains more than $25 million in inventory, not out of braggadocio, but rather a statement on the company’s method. “Having product of this quality available for immediate delivery makes us different,” Bacchi explains. With the April arrival of Artefacto’s new 40,000-squarefoot showroom in Aventura and a new Artefacto Show House concept opening in July at the existing flagship store in Coral Gables, the company’s exposure is set to skyrocket.
Artefacto’s collections, produced in the company’s facility in São Paulo, blend the sleek lines of modern Italian design with hints of French colonial flourishes, an understated Asian appreciation of natural beauty and an eco-friendly ethos born and bred in Brazil. “Artefacto is the greenest furniture company in Brazil,” says Bacchi. “We only use recycled woods, and each step of the production process is designed to make the least amount of impact on our environment.” Bacchi introduced this green streak long before “eco” became a buzzword. “It was the first thing I implemented at the company 25 years ago,” he says.
Artefacto is not just a job for Bacchi—it’s a way of life that began when he was just 12 years old, working a series of summer internships at his father’s factory, learning, as he tells it, every aspect of the family business. At 18, his role at Artefacto was cemented. Ask him if he ever considered another path, and Bacchi seems almost bewildered: “There was no reason to leave this wonderful company to work somewhere else.”
|the St. Bart Chair in gray|
Over the years, Bacchi has imprinted his own influence on the Artefacto brand by traveling the world in search of innovation and inspiration. Of all the destinations he continues to visit, it was Asia—where he lived and traveled extensively in 1990 and ’91—that seems to have made the most lasting impression. The palpable history woven into the region’s landscape really struck a chord with him. “Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam—for thousands of years people have used their natural talents to create handcrafted materials in these exotic places.” The simple functionality of products used by people in their own homes, the mix of natural materials, the modest tools so different from those used by designers in the West—Bacchi has channeled them all to create a signature look for Artefacto.
The outlook also informs his latest line, the Passport Collection, a range that reproduces unique pieces from the far-flung corners of the globe. “It’s named Passport because basically I grab one of my three passports [Brazilian, American and Italian] and travel around the world looking for different products, different ideas, different textures and designs,” explains Bacchi.
One of his most cherished finds has been Filipino designer Kenneth Cobonpue, whose Bloom chair—an Alcantara fabric construction—is a favorite, with a starring role in the new Passport Collection. “We’ve known him for almost 25 years,” says Bacchi. “But he is still so young and fresh as a designer. He has done some very cool pieces for us.” Bacchi also admires Ann Pamintuan, another furniture designer from the Philippines who is working with Artefacto. “What she creates is more than furniture—it’s sculpture,” he says. “It may take her four weeks to make one chair. She’s so talented.”
Portrait by Ben Shaul