As Prada, Bulgari, Valentino, Vera Wang, and Versace have experienced firsthand, Michilli Inc. provides pre-construction and construction services to the high end retail, commercial, and residential markets. The company offers full design-build solutions while reducing costs and timelines for its clients.
Michilli’s highly skilled work can primarily be found in the interior fit-outs of sophisticated flagship stores and other retail spaces, although the number of residential and commercial projects is also growing.
Bronx-born Angelo Michilli, the company’s founder, descends from six generations of Italian millwork craftsmen with a passion for construction. He studied mechanical engineering at Manhattan College and business administration at Pace University, but chose to get back to his family roots in construction.
After five years with Turner Construction, Angelo was approached by a friend with the opportunity of taking on a freelance retail project for a certain designer, then little known. It was Prada.
In 1992, Angelo and friend built the first Prada store in the United States on 57th street in Manhattan.
The two continued as partners in a design-build business with architectural services until they split to concentrate on their individual specialties. Angelo established Michilli in 1999 to focus on the construction aspect of the business, hiring independent architects as required.
Within the construction industry, the world where Angelo was so at home, the company soon developed a reputation as a luxury-boutique builder. It gained renown for treating its clients to a kind of white-glove service that these boutiques gave their upscale customers. Just as Dior – a Michilli customer – offers its clients a custom fit option to ensure a perfectly-fitting fashion statement, Michilli takes the same approach to building for its customers. “We custom-make our project approach per client because we know that each of them has their own special templates,” says Giselle Banzon, Marketing Coordinator for Michilli.
As a result of its specialized expertise in luxury interior fit-outs, Michilli regularly receives requests for unconventional custom-made decorative items. The company always strives to find a solution for its clients, no matter how complex or difficult. When a client asked for a copper bathtub for the bathroom of an upscale private home, Michilli had to face the problem that copper oxidizes and corrodes. The company teamed up with its millwork professionals to create a galvanized steel bathtub with the same copper look but no risk of water damage.
“When our clients ask for something, we really try to find a way to get it here and keep it within a reasonable budget,” says Banzon. “One of our projects now, for example, has velvet wallpaper, which maybe doesn’t sound as impressive as it is, but it is actually an embossed velvet wallpaper. We have to have that custom-made in Italy and shipped here, and then the client has to review it as well, so that’s fairly intense to do.”
The unusual custom requests are especially a part of high-end retail and commercial markets because these businesses want to stand out to their own customers through the unique quality they can offer. The words commonplace, ordinary, and mainstream are not sought-after descriptions in these sectors.
A project to watch
The Richard Mille flagship store on Park Avenue in New York is one of the many where Michilli has gone above and beyond to create a one-of-a-kind interior fit-out. This particular location required the shipment of its giant, etched-glass storefront from a supplier in Canada to the United States. The unique storefront features Richard Mille’s signature watch face on three layers of etched starphire glass. Starphire is a brand of low-iron glass with higher clarity than regular, and without the bluish green tint so often found in thicker specifications. It is made of silica (also called silicon dioxide), and has very low traces of iron.
Additionally, the inside of the Richard Mille store highlights cracked-glass louvers, a black leather wall, and a variety of other hard to find, specialized materials and items. Michilli strongly values its skilled employees, experienced at implementing these creative and inventive ideas, as well as the subcontractors who help find the rare materials and products used to meet exclusive needs. “Michilli is made up of amazing and unique individuals on both a professional and personal level. Not only are the employees fantastic people but the subcontractors we work with are outstanding as well,” says Banzon.
Expanding its services
Michilli is headquartered in New York City on Varick St. and has two other main offices in California: in Irvine and San Francisco. The San Francisco location is the newest, recently established to meet the demand of the many interesting projects developing in the area.
“We also have satellite sites in Miami and in Boston because we also do work out there. A lot of it is service based, and some of it is residential,” explains Banzon. “It’s a fairly large mix of different kinds of projects but the thing that ties it all together is the specialization that we’re able to provide per project.”
Servizio, the service division at Michilli, and Michilli’s Special Projects Services are available to clients who are looking to preserve their investment and sustain the pristine standards of their commercial or retail space with ongoing maintenance. Michilli provides a wide variety of repair and maintenance services including painting, plumbing, electrical, roofing, water damage repair, millwork, metalwork, concrete, heating and air conditioning, carpentry, lighting, and emergency services.
Not surprisingly, the outstanding quality of these services has been recognized throughout the industry. Michilli has recently been nominated for awards in three categories in the New York City Construction Awards including Supplier of the Year, New York Build Excellence, and Marketing Initiative of the Year.
Many individual projects, such as the New York Dermatology Group Health and Wellness Center on Fifth Avenue, have been recognized with awards. A project on which Michilli collaborated with Brandon Haw Architecture, this building won the Design Excellence Award from the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Michilli was also the general contractor on a project for the prestigious Italian jewelers Bulgari, in New York, that was named a Best of Year Project Winner for midsize retail projects in the Interior Design Magazine issue of December 2018.
A big part of Michilli’s success is that the owner of the company, Angelo Michilli, is so deeply involved with the progress of each project. Meeting daily challenges, highly skilled and experienced project managers at Michilli don’t have to function in lonely isolation. “Angelo has a beautiful view and perspective on construction. He understands the space and the client, and is highly involved in every project which he oversees with a calm and tempered approach,” says Banzon.
Regular intensive meetings are held by the staff to ensure smooth progress of projects, and with Angelo’s longstanding relationships with his clients, his personal responsibility and input is prized. Of course, this attention to detail comes with a rigorous schedule and much travel countywide.
For the past 20 years, Michilli has brought the same unvarying quality of service to every one of its clients, without exception. Yes, it has close relationships with luxury brands such as Prada, Bulgari, Valentino, Vera Wang, and Versace, but its commitment to excellence remains identical for each one of its various retail, commercial, or residential projects.
Built on a strong foundation of generations of Italian artisans, Michilli will continue, for years to come, to give each of its clients the quality and exclusivity they value. They’d expect no less.