Design firm Firenze Enterprises, which has a U.S. office based out of Miami and acts as a sister company to Italy-based Nova Color Co., opened its Queens warehouse at 37-24 24th St. in Long Island City in September, offering interior wall finishes with Venetian plaster and bi-monthly seminars on how to build the walls.Showroom manager Eric Raffaeli said Venetian plaster wall finishes, a European technique that dates back thousands of years, have come back into style in recently because they can withstand extreme weather and have a unique look. "I think people want to go back to a traditional look with history behind it, but also want (finishes) that can take abuse and withstand the high humidity we have in the city," he said. He said Firenze's prices are comparable to or cheaper than most company's specializing in the wall finishes, charging $1.50 per square foot of the building material.Raffaeli said the company's plaster is mold resistant, non-synthetic and environmentally sensitive, incorporating 42 percent real crushed marble into its ingredients, as well as using low volatile organic compound tints."There is nothing plastic, nothing fake in our materials," he said.Firenze Color also offers seminars at least every other month at which it teaches customers how to use their materials and how to build their own wall finishes. The courses, which cost $700 per person, last for either one or two days and typically have four to six attendees."We keep it very personalized in small groups so everyone gets individual attention," Raffaeli said.He said the classes draw a number of people who have no prior work with Venetian plaster, while other attendees are artists, painters or people from various architecture or design firms.Raffaeli said Firenze Color's clientele is a mixture of residents from Manhattan, Long Island and Queens. Most of their borough customers visit the warehouse to look around and make smaller purchases, while residents from other boroughs, Long Island and out-of-state customers typically make larger orders over the phone. He said the company has tried traditional marketing and advertising techniques, but word-of-mouth has given the warehouse a big boost."There are many people who will call us up because they heard of us from someone else," he said. "We pick up a lot of clients that way."Firenze Color's next seminar will take place Feb. 28 at the company's warehouse.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@times
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