Scavolini Detroit offers Italian product line.
By Matt Totsky
Photography by jerry zolynsky
In 2009, Niki Serras was enjoying a successful healthcare career working at University of Michigan Health System. Meanwhile, her sister Alisha was pursuing her doctorate in clinical psychology, and Alisha’s husband, Brian Gamache, worked in construction. But that year, something amazing happened. The family was enjoying a trip to Greece and supervising the construction of a new home in the town of Gytheio. Their builder introduced them to Scavolini, an international design brand based in Italy that is famous for its stunning kitchens, bathrooms and furniture for living areas.
“My sister fell in love with Scavolini’s sleek designs and bold colors,” Serras says. “We had never seen anything like it.”
After a year of planning and construction, their dreams came true. Scavolini Store Detroit opened its doors in Birmingham in September 2010.
Each member of the team dove right into new roles at their company, with Niki taking charge of human resources, finance and sales, Alisha overseeing design and freight importation, and Brian heading up construction and installations.
“For my sister and me, this was completely new territory. Things were tough at first because of the state of the economy,” Serras says.
“We learned a lot in the past five years and, ultimately, we’ve been successful in our goal of helping people achieve their design dreams with a distinct style.”
Scavolini customers are responding to a creative product line that offers them a chance to make their homes truly unique.
“Our clients are sophisticated and travel a lot, and this area has a good representation of that kind of mentality,” Serras says. “Our products are in demand because they are so versatile. It’s our job to help people represent their own personal aesthetic. We move them through the process to find something that’s comfortable, both stylistically and functionally.”
Business at Scavolini Store Detroit is thriving, with customers coming not only from the Metro Detroit area, but also from across the state and Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin. “People are seeking us out and a lot of our current customers come from referrals from previous clients, architects and designers. They are intrigued by what we have to offer and know that some of the materials used in our products cannot be found anywhere else. I’m talking about things like tempered glass in matte and glossy and the quality of the lacquers we use. We also have porcelain doors and eco-wood, which is a thermally fused product that has the look and feel of wood without all of the wear and tear.”
In January 2014, the team opened their second store — Scavolini Store Chicago — located in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. Niki, Alisha and Brian remain “hands on” in both locations and continue to operate both with enthusiasm and attention to detail.
They also recently acquired an existing Scavolini Store in Washington, D.C., and plan to open another in Boston in the near future.
“In Italy, Scavolini is a major brand and there are literally thousands of dealers,” Serras says. “But there are only about 15 stores in the States in markets like New York, Miami and Los Angeles.
“We’re excited to be a part of the expansion of this brand. We just completed a major renovation at our Birmingham location. Our displays have been completely changed over the past few months to help us launch some of the latest and greatest and most exciting new designs that debuted at the huge annual design show, Salone del Mobile, in Milan in April.”
Despite their recent growth, Serras knows that it’s important to maintain a strong presence in Metro Detroit’s burgeoning design community. “When it comes to homes, this is a very sophisticated place; the state of Michigan doesn’t get the credit it deserves as a design center,” Serras says. “But when you look at the history of interior design in this area, you’ll see that some of the biggest names in the industry came from places like Cranbrook.
“In fact, I’d argue that mid-century modern was born here. For us, that’s a lot to live up to, and we’ve tried to tap into that scene and keep it alive while at the same time moving it forward. So far, it appears to be working.” NS
202 E. Maple Road, Birmingham