Follow-up File: Fortini settles in to its redesign

Fortini is on South Higuera St in San Luis Obispo.
Fortini is on South Higuera St in San Luis Obispo. Tribune photo

Name: Anne Fortini

Job: Co-owner and interior designer

Business: Fortini

What they said then: In August 2011, The Tribune reported that Fortini Home Garden Design in San Luis Obispo was revamping its showroom, offices and identity.

Opened in 2003, the family-owned business had become known for furniture and home décor. But those sales were declining, while demand grew for its interior and landscape design.

“So much that we do is behind the scenes,” said Marisa Fortini. “We wanted to bring it all out onto the showroom floor and really highlight it.”

She oversees retail sales, while husband Ryan Fortini heads landscape design and mother-in-law Anne Fortini handles interior design. Jan Kepler oversees custom cabinetry.

The showroom on South Higuera Street was reduced to just 1,500 square feet. The designers, who’d previously been tucked away in private offices, moved into workspaces that were part of the main showroom.

“We want people to travel through the store, make their way back and be able to talk to all of us,” Marisa Fortini said.

What she says now: As the San Luis Obispo company continues to hone its focus on design services, it has also simplified its name to just Fortini.

Recently, it also cut back its operating hours. Now closed Saturdays, the showroom is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

“We began to shift into the design center mentality in January,” said Anne Fortini. “Our business shifted to become more project oriented. The retail traffic just wasn’t there.”

Today, close to 90 percent of its sales come from design services, Anne Fortini said. Four years ago, by comparison, design provided about 60 percent of sales.

“We’ve always had an emphasis on interior design,” she added, “but we were selling a lot more product in the retail sales.”

The eclectic mix in the showroom now includes furniture and décor inspired by Fortini’s current design projects, or styles that might appeal to those clients.

And while bringing the designers’ desks out into the open has definitely made them more accessible to the public, Anne Fortini has also discovered some downsides.

“It’s also disruptive in a lot of ways,” she admitted. “You may be working with a client and somebody comes up and needs an an- swer right away.” As a creative person, she tends to spread fabrics, paint samples and other inspirational items around her work space. “I tend to get messy. I have to clean it up every day,” she said. “When I need to concentrate, I find I go back in the old space.”

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