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One-on-One with D'Aquino Monaco Founder Francine Monaco


For over 26 years, D'Aquino Monaco has maintained a global reputation as a world-class architectural interior design firm, with artful yet clean designs gracing everything from office spaces to luxury homes.


For Co-Founder and Principal Architect Francine Monaco, the work is carried out through a holistic, hands-on approach, understanding not only the client, but the cognitive space itself and how it will function.


Monaco recently sat down with the Brown Harris Stevens content team to discuss her approach to work, favorite architectural elements, and more. Here is what she had to say.



Where does your passion for art and design come from?


Curious! I am not sure where it was born but I feel like it has been with me forever. Perhaps it was enjoying the navigation of the weekly family gathering around a table too big for my grandparents apartment and taking the path less traveled under the table.


What's your approach to design when it comes to single-family homes, apartments vs. corporate spaces?


There are similarities and differences. A business wants a space that represents its brand and ethic. A single family residence is an expression of a private or personal story. Each begin with understanding who and how life is lived in the spaces.



What are some of your favorite decor, design, or architectural elements?


As a multidisciplinary studio, we look in all directions when creating the design direction for our projects. The materiality of the wall surfaces, from curtains to carved wood to decorative wall coverings, is an opportunity that is considered as designers and architects.


When doing an extensive renovation, what do you find to be the most common unwanted surprise that will hold things up?


Well, are we tired of targeting the supply chain!


In doing an extensive renovation, the end result being a bespoke space that is being created for a client in a manner that has not been realized before, surprises and creative problem-solving often translate to the best results.


In which stage of the project do you start thinking about color, and what color palette would you like to incorporate most this year?


From the start! As a studio, we have fallen in love with deep tones this year, not in a particular hue, but the value of calming a space with the depth of tone.


What personal elements of the homeowner do you incorporate into your planning, so they ultimately feel at home?


Our work begins with trying to understand the lifestyle of our client; these rituals and activities are a guide to the character scale and relationship of the spaces — which is the inspiration that fuels the diversity of our work.



What element of change makes the most impact when one is tired of their present surroundings but can’t face an entire renovation?


Often the best change is to edit. Clearing the way allows for the introduction of new elements or changes in color and texture.


Do you have a favorite artist or muse that you draw inspiration from in your design?


I have continued to look to early twentieth century Italian architects who embraced the interior, lighting, and objects as well as the architectural objects in their practices.


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