Mercello Luzi: Asking the Right Questions

MarcelloLuziBeing a good designer means understanding your clients and their needs. Philadelphia’s Marcello Luzi understands that to design the perfect room he has to listen first, act second.

Thanks for joining us, Marcello! Tell us a little bit about how you got into the design business. 

Well, I first went to college as a Finance Major but then changed it to Interior Design.  As a child I was always drawing floor plans of very large grand houses and it was my sister who reminded me of this and convinced me to check out Interior Design and Architecture.  I did and because I was obsessed with the interior of the home and how it laid out and functioned I chose Interior Design.

What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist, or is it a meet and greet to feel out their personality?

A lot of it is intuitive.  I like to meet them in their home, see how they live and see what type of things they have purchased in the past.  I also like to see how they interact with one another.  I ask a lot of questions and usually I can get a good feel for people after this initial meeting.  People don’t show you their “crazy” right away, but after several meetings usually they relax and let it all hang out, so to speak.

Working as a designer is committing to a career filled with difficult challenges. Which problems do you face most often? Clients or space? Do you have a method to work through those problems?

Design is hardly ever a problem; we can always find a solution to a design problem.  The problems occur with the budget, the timing, client expectations and the delays caused by suppliers.  With enough planning though and proper design in advance, we try to minimize these real world problems.

Design shows are very popular on television right now. How have they influenced your business? In what ways do your clients now interact with you that they might not have before the popularity of the shows?

Clients are asking a lot more questions they never asked before.  The consumer is better educated on design however most are still in the infant stages of learning.  You’ve heard the expression of someone “having just enough information to be dangerous”?  Well, sometimes that is the case.  TV shows are very deceptive in time, budget and quality level but our job is to educate our clients in the process as well as design.

From the outside it seems like the Philadelphia area focuses on incorporating it’s rich history into many designs! Is that something many clients want? Describe if/how you might incorporate a sense of history into your designs.

There was a time when our Philadelphia projects were definitely more traditional than say other projects in Florida or Bermuda however I am finding that the Philadelphia area is becoming more “transitional”, that’s in-between traditional and contemporary, some call it traditional light.  However I love doing eclectic interiors where one can mix an antique with a modern piece so we can always work in a bit of Philadelphia history when asked to do so.  One might put modern furniture on a very traditional rug or put an antique piece in a contemporary interior.  These days in design we are seeing such a blending of styles, which we call eclectic.

Do you have a design project you are most proud to have completed? What did it look like before? After?

Well the projects that get published in a magazine such as Architectural Digest, Florida Design, Philadelphia Magazine and Philadelphia Style Magazine are always special because a lot of people get to see them and you look back and say, hey I was in a magazine, that’s great!  But I have always felt as a designer that my designs are like having children.  Each one gets the love and attention they require and it is very difficult to choose a favorite.  If I had to choose I would say the projects with very open minded clients are always the most fun as you can go outside the box.

We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your designs? Are there designs where you’re more likely to use a rug? Less?

Area rugs are huge these days because hard wood floors are also huge these days.  We use them everywhere.  I can’t say there is one style or space that gets them more or less.  We just love to use them everywhere.  Usually kitchens and baths will not get them, but any sitting room, dining room and bedroom look best with rugs.  We can vary the style based on the design but rugs and window treatments do the most to make a room warm and cozy and make it look finished.

Which area rugs do you find most durable? Least durable?

We use a lot of wool rugs and then sometimes synthetics but I have also been known to use outdoor rugs indoors when there are pets or kids that have accidents.  I for instance have two male Chihuahua’s that were rescue dogs and I have used outdoor faux sisal in my home so I can easily clean any accidents.

We know as well as anyone that rugs can be expensive. Any assistance on how to cut down on the initial price?

Well here are some basic tips… choose the smallest size that works for the space; chose lesser expensive fibers like nylon instead of New Zealand wool; select a rug with fewer knots per square inch; chose machine made over hand tied or hand tufted.

Thanks for your time today! Any more hints for our readers!

Always consult a design professional.  They can save you time and money and help you avoid costly mistakes.


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