The luxury furnishing business has expanded significantly in recent years. But in such a large market, one may wonder: How is it possible to distinguish real quality, to what point is the price determined by the brand name, and, furthermore, how does one justify, for example, paying up to $10,000 for a sofa?
To leave these doubts behind, we delve into two of the top luxury furniture showrooms in Miami in order to find out what makes them special and why people from all over the world go there in search of their exceptional merchandise. They are Artefacto, featuring exclusive handmade design, and Addison House, with its selection of imported European lines.
A taste for beauty, Italian attention to detail and quality meets Brazilian passion, design and naturalness. Welcome to the world of Artefacto, the artisans of high-quality, contemporary luxury furniture.
It all started with grandfather Bracchi when he emigrated from Bologna to Brazil and set up a farm. His son, Albino Bracchi, opened a small cheese factory at age 17, and it wasn’t until a call from his best customer, who was facing bankruptcy and offered him carpentry machinery, that the seed of what was to become Artefacto was planted. Albino began to fabricate tables for establishments in Sao Paulo, and in only four years he had two hundred employees. Albino’s son, Paulo Bracchi, came into the family business at age 17. After a six-month trip around the world, he returned to Sao Paulo with the idea to revolutionize the family business by turning it into Artefacto in 1975, a shop aimed at producing and selling contemporary luxury furniture with ecological awareness, where natural materials and sustainable practices give way to unique and exclusive designs inspired by architects such as Sergio and Claudio Bernardes, Oscar Niemeyer, Maccio Kogam and Isay Weinfield.
Today, Artefacto has more than 100,000 employees, 25 showrooms in Brazil and a strong presence in Miami, with its Coral Gables showroom (17,000 square feet), another one in Aventura (45,000 square feet) that is considered the largest contemporary luxury furniture showroom in northern Florida, and finally the latest opening in Doral, which specializes in Artefacto’s Passport Line.
To understand Artefacto’s concept and products, it’s important to get to know Paulo Bracchi.
A leader who is energetic, passionate, genuine, sensitive and adventurous, a salesman and a natural creator, Paulo Bracchi, a second generation in the world of luxury furniture, lights up with a big and enchanting smile when he talks about his 17-year-old twins, Pietro and Bruno, the future and third generation of Artefacto. “Pietro is the salesman and the creative, while Bruno is his perfect complement; he’s learning everything that has to do with strategy, administration and planning. It’s important for them to observe and participate in all of the processes. Artefacto’s clients are successful people that are usually busy; they value quality, and want something different, contemporary and comfortable. Here, we’ll show you a few showrooms where you can experience the feeling of living with Artefacto furniture, collaborate with our interior designers, choose among our ample inventory, and make custom orders.”
These are seven attributes that distinguish Artefacto’s pieces:
1. Signature and exclusive designs, including unique pieces and limited editions
2. A company-owned and -operated fabrication process, exclusively in Brazil
3. First-grade leather and exotic woods
4. Sustainable fabrication practices and materials
5. Interior design services included
6. Custom-made furniture available
7. Quick delivery
Two Caleños (from Cali, Colombia), Max Alcay and his cousin Alberto Camhi, told us about their company Addison House, a leader in high-end contemporary European home furnishing in Miami. Max came to study engineering in Miami 25 years ago, and, due to twists of fate, he had the opportunity to buy a small furniture business, Addison House. He started selling the classic furniture lines that were popular back then. When architect Alberto Camhi decided to move from Colombia 16 years ago and partner with Max, they found harmony. Max would be in charge of marketing, planning strategies and sales, while Alberto would manage purchases and administration. Slowly they began to define and direct the concept for Addison House toward high-end, contemporary European furniture, representing more than 100 brands from Europe, Brazil and Indonesia. Addison House has grown to become the standard for sellers of contemporary European furniture in the Miami region, with stores in Doral and Aventura, as well as Panama. Its latest project is the opening of another store in Aventura, Addison Kids, with a line of contemporary, high-end European furniture and accessories that are colorful and playful for kids and teens.
“The toughest thing for us is finding the ideal locations in such a dynamic furniture market as Miami,” comments Max. “Our short-term goal is to open another store in South Miami and two more Addison Kids. Our client is sophisticated; they know European furniture, and the brands we represent. We also offer a large inventory to satisfy any immediate needs.” Alberto explains the importance of relationships with the furniture makers, whom they visit twice a year. Just as important is their presence at international fairs, where they stay up to date with the latest trends. “New technology has played a big part in the current furniture selection,” he points out. “For example, the modular bookcase is going away, just as the classic concept and design for the TV cabinet. However, what is known as eco-friendly leather — sophisticated vinyl that looks and feels like leather — is being used more often on dining chairs and head-boards.”
Seven attributes that distinguish Addison House home furnishings:
2. Made in Italy and Spain
3. First-grade leather, eco-leather and eco-friendly faux leather
4. Reasonable prices with the high-quality furniture sector
5. Interior design service included
6. Option for immediate delivery
7. Twenty-five years of experience
The seven keys to seek in luxury furniture
1. The Quality of the Materials
- Wood. Look for wood that’s hard and doesn’t scratch easily, such as American mahogany, beech, walnut, European oak, ash, teak and ebony. They tend to be on the expensive side. In the case of contemporary European veneered furniture, they must have a minimum of nine layers.
- Filling. If you want soft cushions that conform to the body, look for feather stuffing with an interior casing to avoid having the quills going through the fabric. Choose a mix of feathers and DacronTM (polyester fiber) if your want cushions that maintain their shape. Cushions should be reversible.
- Leather. A list of terms used in the industry to describe the pigmentation treatment, texture and durability characteristic of leather is the only standardized way of comparing the quality from one manufacturer to another. These terms are aniline, grain and correction. Aniline: when the leather hasn’t been treated with any type of color. It’s least resistant to stains and the most expensive kind. Semi-analine: leather that has been dyed or pigmented in a way that produces a translucent effect, so that the hide’s natural qualities can still be seen. Pigmented: leather stained with opaque pigment that is normally stamped with a texture that mimics a special kind of hide, it’s the most durable and the least expensive. Top Grain Leather: refers to the outermost part of the hide, which is also the longest lasting. When this hide is sanded, it’s said to be corrected, and it produces the velvet-like effect known as Nobuck. Split: is the part found beneath the top layer. It’s less durable, has the least amount of natural markings and is less expensive. When sanded, it’s said to be corrected and it produces suede.
2. Construction Quality
High-quality wood furniture is assembled using screws or wooden dowels instead of glue, nails or staples. The corners are reinforced with blocks, and the back panel is secured in a way that’s not visible. All of this will create more stability to the piece. Look inside each drawer of any desk or dresser for a wooden sheet that will protect the contents inside.
3. Ecological Alternatives: Eco-leather
Eco-leather is manufactured from leather debris and clippings, along with products such as cotton. In fact, the term “eco-leather” arises because the products with which it’s tanned and finished are natural and, under many international laws, are required to be biodegradable.
If a piece of furniture does not serve the purpose for which it was created; it’s simply not a good piece of furniture, just a sculpture.
Increasingly, furniture companies collaborate with well-known designers or architects who design exclusive furniture for their brand, providing certificates that guarantee that the piece is original. The piece has the potential of becoming a good investment depending on the reputation of the designer or architect.
There are also luxury brands in the world of interior design. Status is achieved by creating an aspirational world through advertising, design showrooms, quality and exclusivity of the products, prices and service.
Unique, exclusive or limited-edition pieces acquire added value as reflected in the price.