By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
Marconi Naziazeni is Brazilian, but he prefers sleek and modern Italian furniture engineered to make the most of small spaces.
In 1998 Naziazeni and his interior-designer wife, Sylvia, opened Anima Domus with $50,000 in a 3,000-square-foot space across from Coral Gables City Hall. Their garage became their warehouse. Next came the Aventura showroom in 2004. Five years later they relocated the Coral Gables store to the Miami Design District. Recently, when rents reached $200 a square foot in the design district, they moved to a 7,000-square-foot store in Miami’s MiMo neighborhood on Biscayne Boulevard.
“If I wouldn’t buy it for myself, I wouldn’t put it on the floor,” Naziazeni says.
On a recent visit to the MiMo store, Naziazeni and his son, Victor, illustrated examples of their space-saving furniture. They rolled aside a fully loaded bookcase and pulled down a queen-sized bed with a standard mattress. Another bed pulled down over a sectional sofa. One of the most interesting hideaways was a wall unit with a flat-screen television hanging on the front. A bottom drawer hid a collapsible dining table. Folding chairs were stored behind the television.
City & Shore: Why South Florida?
Marconi Naziazeni: I was working for Hewlett-Packard in Brazil when I came to Miami. The weather was fantastic. I fell in love and told my wife, ‘Let’s try to go there.’
C&S: How did you come up with the name Anima Domus?
MN: Sylvia came up with the name. It means spirit or soul of the home in Latin. I thought the name was going to be a disaster, but here we are 16 years later.
C&S: What makes your furniture special?
MN: Our main niche is a smaller-scale apartment. We have what people need to make better use of their space.
C&S: Who are your clients?
MN: Most of our clients are highly educated, speak more than one language and travel constantly. We are not just a Florida store. We have clients from South and Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. We also have shipped to California, New York, São Paulo and Mexico.
C&S: What is your price range?
MN: Mid-high to high-end. The bed hidden behind the bookcase without side units is $8,000. Others go up to $20,000.
C&S: What special services do you offer?
MN: Most of our business is through interior designers and architects. We are very tech oriented and have three architects on staff. The clients send us CAD [computer-aided design] drawings. We help them measure the space and make sure the furniture fits.
C&S: What is your best advice?
MN: Never buy a piece of furniture on impulse. What is your budget? If you spend a lot on a main piece you may have to go with lesser cost for other pieces.
C&S: What is your business motto?
MN: Be happy and look for what is best for the client. That can mean raising a sofa three inches and making the cushions firmer for an older client.
Anima Domus, 18245 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura, 305-705-9975; and 5084 Biscayne Blvd., #102, Miami, 305- 576-9088, animadomus.com.