Saccaro, a furniture store on the fringes of Miami’s Design District, sells not only Brazilian-crafted furniture but also serves as a showcase for the work of Brazilian designers.
Walking through the Miami store — the first in the United States — and flipping over the tags indicating the designers of chairs crafted from sustainable wood and the Planalto collection, an homage to the curving buildings of Oscar Niemeyer in Brasilia, is like taking a tour of the crème de la crème of Brazilian furniture design.
Most Saccaro furniture is conceived by independent designers who hold the rights to their pieces and are paid royalties.
The family-owned business had its roots in wicker, which for generations had been used to tie grape vines and make baskets and furniture in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.
In 1963, Albino Saccaro, the grandson of Italian immigrants, began making the wicker coverings to wrap and protect five-liter wine flagons. By 1970, however, plastic coverings for wine bottles had come into vogue. That prompted a move into furniture making and the Saccaro family hasn’t looked back since.
It now has 30 stores throughout Brazil, stores within stores in smaller Brazilian cities and international distribution.
There was a tradition in Southern Brazil of each craftsman handling a piece from beginning to end, and that emphasis on individual design has continued at the company.
“The strength of our company is design — design, design, design,’’ said Luiz Silva, president of Saccaro USA and master franchise holder for Saccaro stores in the United States. “I would say Saccaro is a furniture designer’s paradise.’’
Silva was a distributor of Saccaro accessories and furniture and sold to wholesalers from a small North Miami showroom. “But we weren’t getting the exposure we wanted,’’ he said. “We decided that to get the brand recognition, we would have to open a Saccaro store.’’
Silva acquired the master U.S. franchise rights and opened his first Saccaro store on North Miami Avenue just over a year ago.
Saccaro, which is based in Caxias do Sul, owns the brands and the manufacturing and is the master franchiser for the Brazilian stores.
Welcome in Miami
“Florida, Miami is just a huge open shopping mall. People from all over the world feel welcome here and many of them are just looking for an excuse to come here and visit,’’ Silva said.
The Miami store is one of a new generation of Saccaro concept stores that are designed to be an experience and create a sense of place.
Work by the featured designer of the month is displayed by the door, and the central portion of the store is the atelier stocked with fabric swatches, accessories, wood samples and rugs — including a mosaic crafted from 3,500 small pieces of cowhide. It’s here that customers can customize pieces and view computer models of how the furniture they have selected will look in rooms with the same floor plan and dimensions of their home.
“We can see if a piece is too big for a room before we go back and forth with deliveries,’’ said Silva.
Even though she’s Brazilian, Sandra Orlandi Silva has lived in the United States for the past 30 years and wasn’t familiar with the Saccaro name until recently.