meet the makers | Jun 13, 2024 |
This artist helps restore historic interiors to their original glory

Maddalena Fanconi doesn’t need to look for inspiration—it’s ingrained in her work. The southeast Florida–based decorative artist has built a business crafting specialty finishes and custom surface designs for a wide range of esteemed clients, including Louis Vuitton and the New York Public Library (where she recently helped restore its legendary vaulted ceiling). “My mission is to preserve and amplify the heritage of craftsmanship in decorative painting,” she tells Business of Home.

Maddalena Fanconi
Maddalena Fanconi Israel Goez

Born and raised in Northern Italy, Fanconi began taking drawing and painting classes when she was just 11 years old. Coming from a family of craftspeople—her mother is a textile artist and her father owned an architectural glass company—she has been immersed in art and design for as long as she can remember. “I grew up surrounded by a sense of good taste, superior quality and fine detailing,” she says.

She has spent the past decade honing her skills, earning an undergraduate degree in decorative painting from the SantaGiulia Fine Arts Academy in Brescia followed by a master’s in interior design, all while fine-tuning her surface and finishing techniques. “Throughout my professional development, I’ve explored various mediums, including modeling in clay, creating site-specific installations, digital art, technical drawings and photography,” says Fanconi. “Ultimately, I found that decorative painting best suited my design inclinations.”

In 2022, she launched her namesake studio in southeast Florida, after taking on prestigious projects such as restoring the gilded dome of the Vermont State House in Montpelier and creating bespoke finishes—including more than 200 24-karat-gold-accented columns—for the famed Le Palais Royal residence on the Gold Coast of Florida. “I’ve also had the opportunity to work on projects with a significant ‘cool factor,’ like the upscale Greek restaurant Estiatorio Milos in New York and the Louis Vuitton store in Costa Mesa, California,” says the artist.

Fanconi’s studio offers a medley of custom surface designs and applications, ranging from Venetian plasters to metal coatings and hand-painted faux finishes. “Typically, I begin by visualizing the composition and how it will fit into a specific environment,” she explains. “From there, I create sketches and select the appropriate materials to achieve the desired effect.”

Left: A Renaissance grotesque motif hand-painted by Fanconi Courtesy of Maddalena Fanconi | Right: Hand-painted columns with 24-karat-gold accents by Fanconi for Le Palais Royal in South Florida Courtesy of Fanconi

Her designs incorporate an array of high-end plasters and glazes applied using time-honored techniques. “I spend a significant amount of time scouting and testing materials,” she says. “Materials can greatly impact an environment—they can add depth to a ceiling, highlight hidden details, and, most importantly, harmonize and blend all the elements of an interior.”

Currently hard at work on a new large-scale canvas design she hopes to install in a commercial space, Fanconi also has plans to unveil a line of stone wall panels inspired by the work of artist M.C. Escher later this year. “What sets this collection apart is the option for clients to choose the orientation of the panels,” she says. “Furthermore, due to their hand-finished nature, each panel is truly one-of-a-kind, ensuring no two are exactly alike.”

In the meantime, she and her small-yet-mighty team of five will continue to take on big-name projects—but no more than two at a time to stay focused—while trying to grow the business. “The future of our studio hinges on our ability to consistently meet our clients' needs and anticipate the evolving trends and demands in design,” says Fanconi. “I aspire to become a reliable resource for design professionals in the Southeast region, and eventually across the States.”

If you want to learn more about Maddalena Fanconi, visit her website or Instagram.

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