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With his passion and interest on real estate business nurtured since his youth, it was only natural for Robbie Antonio to venture into the real estate after finishing business school. He set up Antonio Development in New York and worked with Pei Partners and renowned architect I.M. Pei to design and build Centurion Tower, a luxury residential tower in the heart of Manhattan.
He then joined the family business Century Properties, and spearheaded the development of a key branded residential towers in the Philippines, something that was rararely done in Asia. He partnered with some of the leading brands such as Missoni, yoo by Philip Starck, Armani Casa, Versace Home and Trump Organization, to create some of the most visually striking and impressive real estate projects in the country.
But being the determined and independent person that he is, he still wanted to create something disruptive and revolutionary in real estate industry. In 2015, he decided to create his own personal project, the Revolution Precrafted, a company delivering designer and limited-edition prefab homes and other structures all over the world. Revolution Precrafted then partnered with 81 of the world’s best architects, artists and designers to create one of a kind prefab structures that boast unparalleled creativity, including Pritzker Price architects, Zaha Hadid, Philip Johnson Alan Ritchie, Jean Nouvel. Among the most famous contemporary designers, Antonio also partnered with Ron Arad, Campana Brothers, Daphne Guinness, Tom Dixon, and Marcel Wanders and Helena Christensen and Camilla Staerk.
We at Flawless had the pleasure of meeting him during his last trips to Milan. Here’s what he told us about the birth, mission and future ambitions of Revolution Precrafted.
You based your career mainly in the real estate development: was this your dream since the beginning as a child? Or did you have other career paths in mind?
I have a myriad of passions. I was really interested in art, design, architecture, fashion and sports, among other things. Growing up, I never let go of my passions. When I got the chance to do something on my own, I pushed for the marriage of real estate, art, fashion and architecture and the result is Revolution Precrafted.
Can you please present Revolution Precrafted mission and core business to our readers?
Revolution Precrafted is a global supplier of designer, limited edition prefab homes and other structures. We offer precrafted homes designed by some of the world’s best architects, designers and artists. It is a business model that truly stands out in the world of real estate and property, because there had been no branded prefab products before we entered the scene. Part of the reason why we put up this business it’s to allow customers to have the chance to own designer homes they can have fast, without costing them an arm and a leg. The idea is to build prefab homes that can be built in as fast as 2-3 months, and these homes will be beautifully designed by either our in-house architects or by our revolutionaries, and then shipped to different destinations to the customers.
Through this business venture, you introduced the concept of branding in an industry where customers usually do not follow an aspirational lifestyle. How and when did you spot this gap in the market?
It was during my late 20s in New York. Back then, I have just completed Centurion, my project for Antonio Development. It was designed by I.M. Pei. who as you know, designed the Louvre. I was still looking for something new to do within the sphere of real estate. I was wondering what I could do that would offer something new. One of the things I researched was prefab homes. It was a sector that was underserved and it does not receive as much attention, it became a challenge to me. How do I make this sector interesting? My solution was to incorporate high art, fashion and aspirational architecture. It was a groundbreaking concept and the response from the public has been fantastic.
What is Revolution Precrafted’s ultimate ambition? Where do you see this company in 5 or 10 years?
We want to see our products all over the world. We want to be part of the way people live and how residential developments rise. We believe that designer prefab are the homes of the future because of the convenience and value they offer. Our team believes in this vision and we believe that we can do it. We are presently in 25 countries and we want to be in 85-100 countries by the year 2020. It’s a tall order, but I believe we can achieve it.
How do you value the proposal of Revolution Precrafted in the Italian market? Do you think it’s suitable for our urban or suburban context? If so, are you planning to open a branch in Italy?
Designer prefabs can work in any country, you can develop it according to the required specification. Especially in Europe and Italy, where it’s preferred to build villas, and low-rise buildings. We can function in the city, but we can also work in the suburbs and provinces where there is so much nature to admire. Imagine owning a glasshouse and your view is a winery in Tuscany. That would be amazing. We have a fabricator in Italy so we already have a footprint here. In terms of the regional office, we are still determining some factors to see which country would be the ideal location.
The company’s website features also an e-commerce where houses can be purchased online, a revolution in the customer journey of this industry. Do you believe this is going to be the future?
Yes, that was basically our point when we sought out to incorporate an e-commerce platform to our website. Before, our website showed mostly the designs of the homes. It was beautiful but we felt we needed to go to the next level and enable online visitors to easily purchase any product when they are ready to make that decision.
What’s the entry price for a house at Revolution Precrafted? What would be the shipping and installation costs for an Italian customer?
We have our origin homes designed by our in-house team and prices start at $10,000. Then we have our curated homes, designed by our star architects and the prices range from $120,000 to $360,000. The shipping and installation normally costs about 20-30 percent depending on the location. For Italy, we have a fabricator here so the cost of shipping and installation would be much less.
You frequently worked with famous designers, architects and celebrities. Is there any anecdote about them you’d like to share with us? Is there one about an Italian personality?
We have just finished our designs with Francesca Versace and it has been amazing to see the development of the designs from its earlier versions to its final form. I remember seeing the final design and I was truly captivated by it. We can’t wait to launch in in the market by 2019.
Italy is considered one of the birthplaces of art and architecture, were any of your products influenced by the legacy of this country?
Definitely. The design by Francesca Versace pays homage to the truly beautiful Roman architecture. I cannot divulge much since we are unveiling the design by 2019. We will probably be releasing a few teasers soon.
Milan is Italy’s innovation capital. Have you ever considered a real estate development here? If not, have you ever considered any investment in the city?
Our business model is B2B2C meaning we work with developers and we supply the homes. We would love to invest and develop projects here but unfortunately, we have a different business model.
Being a successful entrepreneur and start-up founder, is there any advice you’d like to give to someone at the early stages of his first business venture?
Dream big, don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. But also be ready to work hard. And be resilient.
Do you travel frequently to Milan? Do you have any favorite address during your visits (dining, shopping, sightseeing, etc.)?
I love Milan. It is one of my favorite cities because there’s just so much art and fashion here. I always try to come visit during the Milan Fashion week but because of my schedule I rarely get to do so. But when I do, I always visit museums, galleries and my favorite restaurants. I really like Bulgari Hotel.
Thank you very much from the Flawless team for the time you dedicated to us, we are honored to share this precious experience with our audience.