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High-End Houston Design House Turns to Virtual Showings and a Swoon-Worthy Sale to Fight Coronavirus

Taking on a Pandemic With Latin Charm — and Plenty of Heart

BY // 03.30.20

Since opening their design house in Houston only four years ago, the charming and talented Latin duo Adrian Dueñas and Marcelo Saenz have been upgrading the city’s design resources for the most interesting contemporary furnishings — Duenas, the CEO and marketing genius of BeDesign, and Saenz, the designer talent and co-owner. The gents, partners in life as well as in business, have immersed themselves not only in business but also in the city’s vibrant philanthropic scene.

So when the COVID-19 wreaked havoc with normal life, they were among the first to send out info on their willingness to help with deliveries of any kind to elderly or homebound friends and acquaintances. It was a beautiful altruistic notion.

They are also involved with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, AIDS Foundation Houston, the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, Operation Smile, and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

“We try to rotate to help each of these,” Dueñas tells PaperCity.

Despite the cancellation of a number of nonprofit fundraisers for which BeDesign had made commitments, the firm remains pledged to their sponsorships in various levels to the Best Dress Luncheon, the CAMH gala, The Menil Collection gala, Operation Smile, and the Houston Grand Opera gala.

Before COVID-19, the partners traveled to Italy four times a year. Their inventory is 98 percent high-end Italian design, including the biggest Italian furniture brand in Italy, Molteni. Dueña and Saenz were supposed to have gone to Milan mid-April for Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the global benchmark event for the furnishing and design sector that takes place every year. For the first time in 68 years, the design show was canceled due to the novel coronavirus.

“Who could think,” he emailed, “that we were drinking Aperol Spritz this time last year in Salone del Mobile in Milan, deciding if the most expensive fabric would be good for the latest sofa designed by Antonio Citterio or finishes for the new closet system designed by Vincent Van Duysen …”

Marcelo Saenz & Adrián Dueñas, Sofia Gambara, Mauricio Sampogna at the VIP Kickoff to the 2018 Texas Contemporary Art Fair at BeDesign

During this current time of uncertainty, Dueñas and the BeDesign team have come up with a way to continue in business, if not taking a cue from but certainly in step with Compass by employing virtual shopping. BeDesign has created a virtual tour of the showroom. A design consultant can peruse a 360-degree view of the showroom with products on full display. The firm has also created a gift card with no expiration date, for which the buyer ponies up for $1,000 to receive a $1,200 gift card.

For the trade, designers and architects can tour the showroom in person alone by appointment. “We will unlock and open the doors, and one by one they can go around, take pictures, see colors, or they also can have a video conference with us,” Dueñas says.

In the boldest move of all, BeDesign is cutting prices by 60 percent on selected items from B&B Italia, Flexform, Molteni & C, and Paola Lenti. Of course, the firm also features inventory of a variety of brands including  Fendi and Casa Miami.

In December, BeDesign announced the expansion of its showroom to 15,000 square feet of modern elegance, designed by Nina Magon — a new look that includes a 5,000-square-foot roof terrace perfect for BeDesign’s chic parties. Dueñas confirms that the expansion is continuing as planned.

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