MIAMI, FL – In his modestly-sized apartment in an upscale residential tower on Miami’s exclusive South Beach neighborhood, Roberto Lucifero welcomes his dinner guests with warm hugs and glasses of wine for all. The apartment is decorated with the impeccable taste of a world-renowned artist, and indeed Lucifero is just that.
But Lucifero is not only that. He also runs his own business and art academy in Rome, both of which he uses to produce original wall coverings, ceiling murals, and original artworks for his clients. The Miami home is not his main home, but he does spend time there throughout the year along with his business and life partner, Adrea Conte.
And it is not just a home: it is a gallery, a showplace for the stunning effects of his business products. Friends describe the concept to visitors before they see it, but words fall far short of the actual effect when one enters this home, showcase, and gallery. Remarked one guest, “It’s like entering a cathedral.” And yet, it is a modest-sized studio apartment; the effect is from the artwork that covers the walls and ceilings.
Lucifero is the Art Director of Studio Lucifero, a business that uses students from Accademia del Superfluo, the art academy in Rome that was also founded and is directed by Lucifero, to produce original hand painted artworks, frescos on canvas, murals and decorative paintings, all in different styles according to a client’s tastes. “It’s really a simple thing,” says Lucifero in an interview with The Harbus. “And it dates back to the 18th century,” he says, adding that his company has only revived an historical art process in modern times.
With credentials that include work in some of the world’s most prestigious art institutions, Lucifero separates his business from the world of high-art. Says Lucifero, “I know all those people, I know all those places, I’m in all those circles, but this is something different. This is for the clients; I don’t need for this work to be approved by those circles.” While Lucifero does have world-class credentials as an artist, he places his business firmly in the marketplace. With his unabashed goal of satisfying his clients’ wishes, Lucifero is building a business like no other in the world.
And the world appears enchanted. Since 1993, Studio Lucifero lists almost one hundred major projects for commercial institutions, state buildings, and high-worth estates, and that is only a partial list of its major projects. Included in the list is “Decoration of Corsini Castle (Umbria),” “Decoration of luxurious villa (Rome),” “Decoration for the lounge of Omni Hotel (New York),” and numerous other luxury hotels and very exclusive residences around the world.
Lucifero consults with his clients, often presenting multiple original sketches to find a unique look; the product can be as flexible as his customer’s imagination. Says Lucifero, “I make one or two drawings a day.” Lucifero explains on his website (//www.studio-lucifero.com), “Our goal is to execute original paintings following the project developed by the architect or [interior designer] as we did for the Principe di Savoia Hotel in Milan, the Excelsior Hotel’s Cupola in Rome and the Disney store in Florence.” The styles he offers include “Pompeian, Renassaince, Baroque, 18th Century, [and] Contemporary.”
The art and its placement is noteworthy in itself, but the operations behind Studio Lucifero are particularly noteworthy. Lucifero says he uses about 25 artisans in a factory in Rome, all of whom are students from his own Accademia del Superfluo, where they learn world-class art skills and the craft that drives Lucifero’s business.
The company explains on its website that the canvas product “is prepared with a special plaster which gives it the appearance of a fresco or mural but is sufficiently supple to be rolled up for shipping.” The ability to ship the product is key to the business model. All the studio artisans work in Rome under Lucifero’s supervision; there are no travel costs associated with hiring a team of artists for a conventional fresco or mural. The cost savings mean the product’s price per square foot is equal to or only slightly more than high-quality wallpapers.
An additional advantage of preparation apart from the installation site is that contractors can continue construction work on site while the art is prepared separately, thereby making what is conventionally a sequential process into a parallel one. Once the product is shipped, it can be framed, or it can be “pasted on the walls or ceilings in no more time than is needed to install ordinary wallpaper or tapestry,” says Studio Lucifero’s site. In addition, Lucifero claims his “paintings are easy to clean, long lasting and fire proof.”
On his desk in his Miami apartment is a recent drawing he calls “The Twins,” a contemporary sketch of non-identical twins that he said were inspired by thoughts of rebuilding New York’s World Trade Center. His walls are adorned with frescos and more historical styles of Italian art. The application of the canvas in his apartment conceals doors and gives the illusion of windows, causing one guest to remark to another, “Let’s see if you can find the bathroom.”
The challenge for Lucifero, however, is finding a bigger market. While Studio Lucifero remains busy with commissions, Lucifero says his company can handle an increase in production, however he has trouble cracking the Miami market, which has a well-defined contemporary aesthetic and resists unorthodox design methods.
Still, other markets surely await discovery. Studio Lucifero offers an innovative product based on an old art form, and it employs production methods that streamline both processes and costs to eliminate the prohibitive prices historically associated with original frescos and murals. If Lucifero finds success with the next phase of building his business, Rome may soon reclaim the cultural center of art and influence-at least in the world of interior design.