Behind the Scenes with Ana Azevedo, Kassavello 16th June 2020 | IN EXPERT INSIGHT | BY SBID

Ana Azevedo, founder of SBID Accredited Partner, Kassavello shares her insight into the interior design industry as a supplier of high-end brands and bespoke furniture solutions to interior designers.

What is your current job?

I head up Kassavello’s London office and manage sales and customer relations with particular focus on the interior design community. I founded Kassavello with my business partner Renata in 2015.  We offer a selection of curated products from elite brands and bespoke furniture to interior designers, architects and end clients.

What is your background and how did you get into interior design?

My previous career was in business management within the hospitality sector where I managed a number of high-profile restaurants and bars. I had always had a passion for design but having exposure to such a variety of prestigious venues ignited my interest and I enrolled in a series of interior design courses at the University of Arts in London. Moving from client-side within hospitality to client-management within design was a hugely rewarding transition where I was able to transfer and combine old and new skills whilst working in a creative industry that is constantly evolving and never fails to inspire me.

furniture, Behind the Scenes with Ana Azevedo, Kassavello

Describe an average day in your job role..

My business partner Renata is based in Portugal, the location of our key suppliers and manufacturers and it’s critical that we stay aligned at all times so that there’s a consistent and seamless workflow.  Every day begins with a video conference call where we run through current priorities, project status and actions required. I then follow up client-side, more often than not this is with a UK based interior designer, on any decisions required for bespoke furniture production such as discussing design detailing or scheduled fabric deliveries.  Whilst we often receive DWG drawings from our clients, we always produce detailed technical drawings for approval working closely with a team of dedicated craftspeople in Portugal who have decades of experience and can often propose sleek solutions to practical design problems.   Most days also bring new enquiries which I follow up on often whilst juggling the logistics of overseeing white glove installation on site.  I also dedicate time each week to keep abreast of industry trends and developments too as its critical that designers can trust us to be one step ahead of the game when it comes to innovation and evolution within the luxury design space.

furniture, Behind the Scenes with Ana Azevedo, Kassavello
furniture, Behind the Scenes with Ana Azevedo, Kassavello

Which elements of your profession do you enjoy the most and/or find the most rewarding?

We frequently use different artisans to deliver individual elements for one piece of furniture – for example an exquisite brass handle crafted by an exemplary metal artisan combined with beautifully inlaid veneer from our expert team of joiners. Facilitating a designer’s unique vision through our trusted network of craftspeople is always rewarding when you see the vision from conceptual drawings through to final installation.

Is there anything new you are excited to be working on?

We’re currently working on a proposal for a significant number of bespoke items for a project in Malta in collaboration with one of our favourite designers. She has a passion for bold design and colour and is always looking to push the boundaries in terms of shape and form which is thrilling for us and the team of experts that we work with. There’s nothing like a creative challenge!

furniture, Behind the Scenes with Ana Azevedo, Kassavello

What do you find the most challenging aspects of your job?

Managing expectation versus budget is a familiar challenge to everyone in the industry and our sector is no exception.  Our clients consistently want to deliver exceptional pieces but sometimes you have to set expectations and find the best solution in terms of materials or a design tweak that offer a very good result and one that also comes in on budget!

The logistics of delivery can also be very challenging.  Whilst we work with outstanding white glove delivery teams, we can often be faced with logistical issues and dependencies on a 3rd party in terms of access or red tape, particularly in central London.  Always surmountable but always a challenge!

What do you wish you knew before working in the field?

How much attention to detail interior designers have. This is certainly not a criticism, in fact far from it – we work with some exceptional designers who can sometimes request a change of design equivalent to a few millimetres. When we first developed the business, we had no idea how particular clients could be but with the benefit of experience behind us we are now able to guide and collaborate on those decisions, knowing when they will and when they won’t matter to the stability or aesthetics of a piece.

furniture, Behind the Scenes with Ana Azevedo, Kassavello
furniture, Behind the Scenes with Ana Azevedo, Kassavello
furniture, Behind the Scenes with Ana Azevedo, Kassavello

What would you tell your younger self if you had the chance?

Follow your gut feeling… if a project or a client does not feel right, it probably isn’t

What has been your favourite project to work on?

We were very fortunate to be given the opportunity to work on an exceptional project in Kuwait with an end client who had no budget constraints and an appetite for luxurious finishes and styling. Having the opportunity to work alongside her and her family to furnish their beautiful villa was a design dream and allowed us to select hand-crafted pieces that are rarely accessible but are truly timeless heirloom items.

Conversely, we recently worked on a project in Chelsea with high client expectations but challenging budget constraints.  We spent a lot of time with the designer developing solutions and alternatives that did not detract from the exceptional result that was required and ultimately delivered – hugely rewarding.

furniture, Behind the Scenes with Ana Azevedo, Kassavello
furniture, Behind the Scenes with Ana Azevedo, Kassavello

What do you think is the biggest problem the interior design industry faces?

The access to information for end clients via social media has become overwhelming. It can make the decision- making process extremely drawn out when the client suddenly spots something new they love, or when they have seen a cheap copy of an atelier piece of furniture and fail to appreciate the value in the time and craftsmanship that is put into bespoke pieces. It’s something that the industry is working hard to address and a conversation that we are always happy to be a part of.  With close and long-standing relationships with some of Europe’s finest artisans we absolutely appreciate the skill and dedication that goes into every piece of bespoke furniture.

Who do you admire the most in the industry and why?

In terms of furniture design, Kelly Wearstler is a personal favourite of mine. Her curation of vintage, contemporary and architectural forms within her pieces is truly exceptional. She is always innovative, inspirational and evolutionary – outstanding traits in a designer that consistently pushes the boundaries and is a leading industry narrator. Architecturally it has to be Joseph Dirand, his eye for volume and space underpinned by classical proportion is unsurpassed – a true master of his craft.

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