We had the good fortune of connecting with Petronio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Petronio, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
Our Italian upbringing was instrumental in getting our firm to where it is now. From a creative standpoint we have been immensely lucky to have experienced beauty, art, and design firsthand. Excellence, craftsmanship, detailing were our immediate surroundings as kids. As such, Italy has left its print in the way we do anything from choosing a door handle to discussing sources of inspiration with our clients. From a business education standpoint, art grad school has provided us with an invaluable skill set which has surprisingly little to do with artistry and is much more focused on how to run and manage a creative practice. Countless hours of art critique have strengthened our ability to describe and translate complex visual, tactile, and formal perceptions into everyday language. Our job as designers is to aggregate those grandiose stimuli into something concrete, something domestic, worth our clients’ ordinary consumption. Dealing with limited resources has also had an impact on how we approach production down to how our firm operates in terms of sustainability and profit. Finally, we do come from a place where listening and sharing are core values, and we encourage all of our patrons to contribute to our understanding of art, design, color, and form which we believe make our business stronger and more successful.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Petronio is a love child. It was definitely not expected. One of us had just completed a dreamy educational career began at the UCLA School of the Arts while the other was just beginning one at the same exact place. We almost accidentally stumbled upon a gorgeous Victorian house which we immediately moved into and began treating as our sole, true passion project. Domesticity and wholesome living have always been important values for us, possibly because of our Italian background. We later realized that our artistic training had irrevocably influenced how we existed in space and we said to each other “We should share this artful living with others!”. A couple of nighttime readings of Satyricon, an ancient novel by a Roman imperial advisor of style, sealed the deal for us: as its author Petronius Arbiter we would become style advisors of our patron’s spaces, architects of exquisite living. Starting wasn’t easy. We essentially had to engage in a massive reorientation of our skills and expansion of our creative assets within the framework of a commercial business – but we did it and immediately began to see commissions coming our way. Understanding our own resources, scavenging for the littlest abilities within our own routines has helped us tremendously and guided us in strategizing for and consolidating our enterprise. Structure and regular self-assessment are what keep our business on track.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Coming from Rimini, one of the crown jewels of Italian hospitality, we can confidently say that Los Angeles is both underappreciated and under promoted. Much of its beauties are left hanging to themselves without clear, cutting-edge itineraries. A media strategy able to meet today’s travelers’ needs is also missing. So, for us, a starting point of an LA tour would be downtown Pasadena to envisage what Los Angeles would look like if beautified in a post housing crisis, post corporate developer scenario. Walking up and down the once-decrepit, now polished alleys, the visitor is confronted with LA’s signature clash of architectural styles and revivals: tropical, Colonial, Baroque, Romanesque… The boulevards that surround downtown Pasadena are also worth checking out, as they are replete of superbly landscaped Victorian private residences. On a completely opposite note, we recommend a pilgrimage to the Tongva shrine of Puvunga at Cal State Long Beach, a field of ancient trees and stones filled with magical emptiness, left-over gestures, and a problematic longing for proper historicization. For the lover of art, we recommend a trip to the Getty Villa with its unbelievable collection of rare antiquities, while we would reserve a table at Barrique in Venice or Alimento in Silver Lake for the lovers of fine foods. Our tour would culminate in a nighttime ride along Sunset Boulevard, beginning to end, classic convertible ‘de rigueur’.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We are thankful for the many people who, like us, ventured into a serious restructuring of their skill set and became successful entrepreneurs. They were an endless source of inspiration to us and to our career building. Off the top of our mind, our shoutoutout goes to Lisa Sitko and Douglas Armour of All Valley Yacht Club. Their creativity and ability to solve problems is as immense as their resourcefulness.
Lance Gerber, photographer IG: lance.gerber