maria chiuchiarelli interview

DesignMCC is a virtual staging business based in New York City. Founded by architect Maria Caterina Chiuchiarelli, Design MCC offers innovative services within the virtual staging space. 

Virtual staging is the process of doing the work of ‘staging,’ which typically involves furnishing and decorating a space, but all within virtual space with the help of advanced software programs. 

As you might expect, virtual staging has seen a huge burst of attention and demand since the start of the global pandemic. 

While traditional staging, and even consultations for traditional staging, would require in-person interaction, virtual staging allows both clients and companies alike to adhere to social distancing measures. 

Chiuchiarelli was excited to speak with LNGFRM about the nature of virtual staging and what it took to get her company off the ground. 

What she shared with us doesn’t just offer an insightful look into virtual staging– it’s also a fascinating description of the challenges that come with starting and running a small business. 


When you founded DesignMCC, was your intention to focus on virtual staging, or did that aspect come later?

Chiuchiarelli: I intended to deliver several services that are all connected in the design world: virtual staging, interior design, and product design, services that I could offer thanks to my experience as an architect, an interior designer, and an artist. 

What kinds of resources did you need to gather to make wide-scale virtual staging possible? 

Chiuchiarelli: In the beginning, I founded my business, literally, on all my resources. 

I had to be a web designer, marketing specialist, public relations officer, the boss that managed everything, and even the one that does the physical tasks. 

Then I started relying on more professionals that could support a wide-scale business. 

maria chiuchiarelli interview

How did your experiences as an architect inform the decision to zero in on virtual staging?

Chiuchiarelli: As an architect, I always have a clear understanding of the space, the proportions, and the potential of a property, and by staging it virtually I wanted the people to have the same ability to visualize that space at its best, as I would do in my mind with my skills.

In terms of your clients, are many of them new to the concept of virtual staging? Are they immediately receptive to it? 

Chiuchiarelli: I often work with realtors and they are familiar with the concept. With private clients, I cannot say that they are all familiar, but it’s easy to explain the concept to them by using graphic examples like before and after pictures of a space. 

They love that and immediately get a sense of what virtual staging is. They are very appreciative of seeing an empty space turned into something unique and beautiful when it’s furnished and decorated with style and originality.

Can you tell us about some of the challenges of starting your own company?

Chiuchiarelli: The first challenge for me was starting a company from zero in a foreign country where the rules and regulations are completely different from what I was used to in Italy.

Another challenge was to learn how to manage and balance all the aspects that concern a company like keeping up with the job and at the same time organizing all the advertising, social media, networking, and public relations. 

It was hard, but looking at the bright side, I can say that I learned so much and acquired new skills. 

maria chiuchiarelli interview
Photo via DesignMCC.

Are you currently planning to add any services to DesignMCC in the near future?

Chiuchiarelli: Yes, I’m thinking of adding a real estate section to create an interesting business chain where the client can ask me to help rent, buy, or sell a property, stage it virtually, and decorate it. 

If you could go back in time and give your past self advice when DesignMCC was first starting, what would it be?

Chiuchiarelli: I’m honestly satisfied with the start of this company and how it turned out, but I would probably suggest to my past self to be more eager. 

Starting a small company made me think big, but at the same time made me feel small looking at all the big competitors on the market. 

But now I feel extremely confident in my business and what we can offer to our clients!


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