An artist at heart, Antonio brings an eclectic approach to interior design, with an interesting mix of antiques, modern artwork and contemporary furniture. Over the past ten years, Antonio’s projects have included residences in the Bay Area, Europe and South America. His commercial designs include hotels in Palm Springs, Mexico, Brazil and Europe.
We sat down with Antonio to discuss his life before design, his process and how passion and intuition led him to settle in San Francisco.
Take us back to the beginning. When did you decide to become an interior designer?
I always wanted to be a designer of some kind, but in the 80s in Brazil, good catholic boys could not become designers. As a result, I studied economics and then transferred into a hotel management program in Switzerland. I graduated in 1990.
My first job was with Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong where I worked in the catering and event department. In three years, I became an event designer. The early 90s in Hong Kong were a very glamorous time; virtually all important events were held in hotel ballrooms: fashion shows, jewelry exhibitions, charity galas, auctions, birthdays, weddings etc. It was the best design school one could attend.
After 12 years working for Hyatt International and moving around the world (Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Chicago, Argentina just to name the places where I lived for more than 6 months), I decided that it was time to follow my passion. I applied for a Master’s degree in NYC and SF and was accepted to both. Destiny, intuition and maybe love, brought me to San Francisco were I joined the Academy of Art University. The rest is history.
Destiny, intuition and maybe love, brought me to San Francisco…
Can you explain your process during the onset of a new project?
The first step is to really understand what the client wants and who they are. I am not doing my house or a copy of a past project so I try to know the client’s design sensitivity. I ask for images of projects they have seen and love. I ask about their everyday life and how they expect to live in the spaces.
Other than that, I need to understand the budgets limitations and the client’s expectation. Unfortunately, social media today often creates unrealistic expectation so it is important that clients know what is the cost/style/quality relationship.
What would you consider to be the biggest change in the field of interior design since you began your firm?
Technology for sure. The amount of software that is readily available is incredible. From accounting to design, to sample ordering. It is all there when you turn on your laptop.
Young designers work differently than we did. They don’t call a showroom, they text. They don’t go to the showroom for samples, they get them delivered. They don’t need to touch, they are able to visualize on a screen. I always mention the example of 1st dibs: when it first appeared, we all said: “no one will ever buy something without touching”. Well, look what happened.
Showrooms will be there but they also have to adjust to work with us and for us in a different way.
How has the global pandemic impacted your business—any silver linings?
The pandemic showed me what is truly important. We should be proud of what we contribute to the quality of life, but it was the scientists and medical community that saved the day.
Our staff is important. Or clients (as people) are important. But if a pillow is late because a seamstress is out because her daughter is sick, the pillow can wait. After all, it is just a pillow.
On the other hand, we have to be professional and not use the pandemic as an excuse for everything and anything. There needs to be accountability.
What exciting projects do you have in the pipeline?
At the moment, I am finishing a dream residential project in Ross for an incredible client. Lots more in the pipeline for 2022, 2023 and 2024…Unfortunately, my lips need to remain sealed.