Articolo Lighting: A Journey of Innovation and Expansion in NoMad

February 14, 2024
By Keith Dale Gordon

Articolo, a highly respected lighting brand, originated from the creative mind of Founder and Creative Director Nicci Kavals. In an exclusive interview, Kavals shared the compelling story of how Articolo came to be, its journey to prominence, its expansion in NoMad, and the strategic decisions that shaped its growth.

Expansion in NoMad

The Birth of Articolo: From Glassware to Illumination

The origins of Articolo trace back to a pivotal moment at Maison Objet in Paris, where Kavals envisioned transforming the Scandinavian-inspired glass vases that she was exhibiting into lighting fixtures. This sparked the birth of Articolo lighting, leading to a journey of exploration into artisanal creativity, wiring, and certifications.

Mouth-blown glass is at the heart of Articolo, with Kavals embracing the nuances and unique individuality from one piece to the next literally created by artisans’ hands. She explains how the lighting’s metal fittings are almost masculine in form, while being married with mouth-blown glass, which is soft and fluid – a beautiful marriage of masculinity with femininity. Kavals shares, “We didn’t set out to build a large international brand. We design intuitively and from the soul. I am a heartfelt person, a people person. So, my connections and relationships with each of our artisans, makers, suppliers and clients are rich and have depth.”

Opting to sell exclusively to the trade, Articolo swiftly gained recognition in Australia and garnered international attention after features in Yellowtrace and Vogue. Known for taking on the challenging route, the brand secured a significant order in the US and ensured compliance with certifications, obtaining UL certification.

Setting Foot in New York and Choosing NoMad

In 2017, Articolo made its debut at the ICFF trade show in New York, earning recognition for its Float Wall Sconce – Interior Design magazine’s 2017 Best of Year Awards Honoree.

Expansion in NoMad
Float Wall Sconce (left)

The brand’s traction in the US led to the decision to establish a showroom in New York. Guided by a recommendation from a friend, Articolo set up its initial showroom in Kew Management‘s St. James building in NoMad. Their friend, Stephanie Waterman, runs the Armadillo Rug Company in the US and has her business based in the same building.

Articolo stripped out space in the iconic St. James and set out to make it their own with silk carpet, a bronze cantilevered sideboard, and imported paint from Denmark. The small showroom made the desired impact.

When COVID hit and people were not going into showrooms, Articolo persisted in supporting the business and rode out the storm. They continued to pay their staff and rent. Then came the unforeseen home industry boom, and business soared. In 2022, Kavals recognized the need for a larger space to keep up with the brand’s growth.

Expansion in NoMad

The move to Kew’s historic Townsend building next door allowed Articolo to expand and create a flagship showroom that aligned with the brand’s identity. Kavals describes the space fondly, “It’s a graceful old lady: sweeping high ceilings, huge pillars, large sash windows.” The intent for their New York location to feel like a true flagship showroom was realized. “It established the new benchmark for what we expect from ourselves.”

Expansion in NoMad

Studio Goss, a long-time friend, collaborator, and creator of Articolo spaces, was engaged to create a showroom in a league of its own. The expansion in NoMad with its neutral palette, layered materiality, and quiet confidence allows the Articolo lights to shine and celebrate the “Art of Light.” Kavals explains, “The showroom provides an elegant, gallery-esque setting for clients and specifiers to view our lighting. The height and architectural detailing from yesteryear all layer to create an environment that reflects the quiet ‘Belgium’ aesthetic and handwriting that is uniquely Articolo Studios.”

Expansion in NoMad

Kavals continues, “When we grew, we could have looked elsewhere. But ultimately, we feel it is a beautiful, elevated sophisticated area with things like Madison Square Park and the NoMad Piazza right at our doorstep. I love that it’s rich with music, entertainment, and a lot of different art projects. It feels culturally in line with our brand. Plus, the grace of the two buildings side by side, which are full of artisans, can’t be beaten.”

Values and Relationships: Nurturing Articolo’s Identity

Maintaining a customer-centric approach, Articolo prioritizes reputation, service, quality, and image. The brand’s commitment to customers was evident during the pandemic, where they continued to provide support and uphold their gold-star service.

Building strong relationships within the Kew Management community, Articolo’s employees, Deena Gittle and Sienna Sumavielle, have facilitated custom projects, showcasing the brand’s integration within the professional design community.

One designer in the building wanted a custom fitting – a pendant Trilogy fixture that dropped through a three-story void. The result? Fantastic. “We feel lucky and fortunate that we are in that building – it’s great exposure to the professional design community.”

Expansion in NoMad
Trilogy Pendant (center)

Plans for the Future

Despite challenges, Articolo’s dedication to quality and service remained unwavering. With an eye on global expansion, Kavals discussed plans to open more showrooms in North America and potentially another expansion in NoMad, New York.

Kavals highlighted the brand’s resilience during some initial uncertainties in 2023, concluding the year with strong numbers. Today, Articolo reaffirms its commitment to innovation and growth with the introduction of outdoor lighting, plans to introduce furniture at Salone in Milan in 2024, and rechargeable lighting.

The Importance of “Art of Light”

As Articolo expands its offerings, Kavals points out, “It is important to me that Articolo designs are timeless with a European sophistication. And have a sense of layering to provide the luxury element while remaining contemporary and minimal. The ‘Art of Light’ is that our lighting designs are both current yet timeless. I see our designs not becoming dated or being too of-the-moment; they will be relevant in 25-plus years and beyond.”

“‘Art of Light’ also refers to the artisanal nature of each piece being handcrafted by artisans’ hands. It’s essential that each design reflects the many hands that have produced it, celebrating the craftsmen and women whose skill and talent I deeply respect.”

Articolo’s future plans, emphasizing focus on the US market, potential showroom expansions, and ventures into new product categories, ensure that Articolo continues to illuminate the world of design with its one-of-a-kind, innovative approach.