Portrait: Angelo Surmelis
Susan Dickenson -- Home Accents Today, 1/1/2012 2:00:00 AM
THE UNVEILING OF the new angelo:HOME line at the High Point Market in October was much more than a new lifestyle launch. For company president and chief designer Angelo Surmelis, it was the realization of a lifelong dream to make good design available to as many people as possible.
Surmelis, the host of HGTV's Rate My Space, has been designing furniture for clients at his Los Angeles design firm for more than 15 years. He's also demonstrated his flair for transforming hum-drum interiors into interesting, photo-worthy environments on Lifetime's Merge, TLC's Clean Sweep and a number of television talk shows.
This past fall, the angelo:HOME collection of furniture, rugs, lighting and bedding from manufacturing partners Surya, Hallmart Collectibles, Modus, SEI and Handy Living brought Surmelis's vision to life in a colorful, casual-elegant presentation he jokingly described as "Anthropologie and Ikea's love child."
Also last year, the first angelo:HOME shop-in-shop debuted at Kittles Furniture stores in Indiana and Ohio. Today, the lifestyle brand continues to launch in brick and mortar stores across the country and via national retailers Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco, Amazon, Wayfair, Hayneedle and Furniture Crate.
The coming year will see a dedicated angelo:HOME store, most likely in Los Angeles, Surmelis said. The company also plans to expand its outdoor furniture line and introduce lighting, dining room and new soft goods in 2012.
What was your initial reaction to seeing the collections all together in a showroom last October? Of course, all I see is what I could have done better, but overall it was an amazing opening. It's been my goal to put the entire collection in one place since we launched the line in August of 2009. Seeing it all come together was truly exciting. I have to say that personally, I had no expectations in terms of sales -- I'm not exactly a great businessman. My goal was to be able to bring all the manufacturing partners together in an environment that illustrated what Angelo: Home means -- great style for all, with furnishings that are fun and accessible. I think we accomplished that. The reaction from buyers was beyond what any of us expected.
To what do you attribute the company's success thus far? Nothing ever happens without a great team. I owe so much of this success to a very small group that is tenacious and hard working. They believe in what we're doing and really support my passion for "attainable style for all." Also, our customer responds to pieces in our line that feel fresh and are truly honest to my point of view about design - that there is no right or wrong way to do a room. The best design comes from personal style and passion, not trends.
Do you have many angelo:HOME products in your own home? I do. I tried not to because I felt it was too self-indulgent and narcissistic, but I gave in. I have my bedding, a few of my tables, a couple of chairs, a rug and a sofa. I think I'll be getting one of my new upholstered beds that's coming out later this year. It's hard, because I really design what I like. I mix it up with flea-market finds, things from my travels and other pieces so that my house doesn't look like an Angelo: Home showroom.
What has been the highlight of your career thus far? I don't feel like I've had it yet. If I'm lucky, my career as a whole will be the highlight.
How do you relax/unwind? I walk all over New York City. It's my favorite pastime and the best way I know to relax. I've walked from Central Park down to Soho and back again. When I don't get a chance to do it, I can feel the tension and pressure building up.
Where did you grow up? We moved to Chicago, from Greece, when I was about six. I grew up in the suburbs, graduated high school in Illinois, and attended college in the city.
Where do you live now? I split my time between New York and Los Angeles.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? An actor. I learned how to speak English, about design, how to dress, from watching American movies. To this day, films are my favorite storytellers. I wanted to be a part of the storytelling process. With design, I get the chance to tell people's personal stories in their homes. Design is less about a pretty room and more about the people that live in it.
How did you earn your very first paycheck? A paper route
What are you reading right now? Then Again, by Diane Keaton
Your secret indulgence: A great meal and an equally great bottle of scotch. Oh, and tiramisu bought from my corner grocery store in NYC. I can eat it till I'm sick -- and I have.
Complete the sentence: "I wish I knew how to..." Sing.
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