Coverings Rock Stars: An Interview with Adriano Caetano

Adriano Caetano

Have you nominated someone to be a Coverings Rock Star? Submissions are open until Monday, January 25 and we look forward to seeing who will join the ranks of Ryan Fasan and Phillip Belloff, 2015 Rock Stars who we’ve featured on the Coverings blog recently.

This week, we set our sights to the installer segment to highlight Adriano Caetano of Adriano Marble Productions & Installations. Adriano began his obsession with tile and stone as a child, and learned the art of installation from both his father and uncle. Here, he shares his tales of passion, hard work, and his sheer love of designing and installing:

1. What does it mean to you to be selected as a Coverings Rock Star for 2015?
Having been selected as a Coverings Rock Star for 2015 is my greatest professional accomplishment to date, and I am extremely proud, grateful, and honored to hold this title. None of my work that has been featured in design magazines has been attributed to me, since generally the profile will focus on the architect and interior designer, so it’s nice to finally receive public recognition.

2. Tell us about your work in the tile and stone industry. Why are you passionate about this industry?
I have been obsessed with tile and stone since I was a child. My uncle in Patos de Minas, Brazil, Dorval Santos, mentored me once my father introduced me to the trade as a youngster. He emphasized that the installation is only as good as its initial preparation, and today one of my favorite things to complete, though it lacks in creativity, is the perfect mud job.

Nothing, however, makes me happier than designing and installing an extremely complicated and outrageous geometrical floor pattern that will simply leave people’s mouths agape. I have done this many times, and the feeling of accomplishment is incredible. While I am working on these floors, I become so focused and passionate, fueled by my black coffee and techno music, that the building could practically be burning down and I would barely notice. I am very fortunate that I get to work with beautiful, graceful materials such as onyx, marble, and granite, essentially creating living works of art.

3. Do you have a specific project or moment in time where you were particularly proud of your work?
Professionally, I am most proud of the Park Avenue apartment that I installed for esteemed real estate developer, William Mack. This work was prominently featured in December 2014’s “The Art Issue” of Architectural Digest. The materials were excellent and classic, and the design was extremely elegant.

Another project I am proud of is Golden Crest, a Stanford White designed, circa 1900 mansion in Elberon, NJ that is a labor of love. This is my laboratory, and where I get to experiment and let loose creatively with its very enthusiastic and equally tile-obsessed owner. My dearest tile memories are at this home. For example, last year I created an 18′ tall blue marble cathedral ceiling atop an amazing black and white geometrical starburst floor. I am currently installing another floor there that I designed and is inspired by the famous black and white floor of The Wolseley Hotel in London- though my version is definitely more rock n’ roll! 

4. Is there a mentor or other professional that you turn to for career advice?
I find myself always turning to designer Randy Cain for advice. She is one of my closest friends and, simply put, an amazing human being. We met many years ago when I looked like a “wacko” (as she loves to remind me), at a time when I favored extremely baggy pants and any clothing with skulls on it, I am ashamed to admit. “Listen, I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, so let’s see how this installation works out,” she said at our first meeting. Since then, she has always encouraged me and stood by me.

5. Please share some advice for young professionals getting started in the tile and stone industry.
I will tailor my advice to flooring designers and installers, as that is what my expertise is limited to:

First off: passion! I can’t begin to tell you how many people I’ve worked with who simply want to get the work done as soon as possible and go home. If you’re in this field simply because your father/friend/uncle is, or you think it’s a good way to make a quick buck, you’re in the wrong business. The work is dirty, heavy, and difficult. The industry doesn’t need any more guys who want to sloppily throw some thin-set on the wall with some 12″X 12″ tile. Don’t be one of the bad guys. Have some pride and be one of the good guys. Please.

Secondly, I would encourage experimentation: there is so much that can be done with a 3/8″ piece of tile and an excellent quality wet saw. In Brazil, I worked with cave man tools compared to what you’ve got here. Take advantage of this! Experiment with shapes, cuts, angles, and materials. It will only make you stronger and more desirable in the industry. You are limited only by your imagination, and hopefully you paid attention in 10th grade geometry class, as this will make your life much easier, as well.

Thirdly, find a good mentor, even if it means doing a ridiculous amount of manual labor in the beginning to please him/her. You will prove your worth and reap invaluable advice from someone who has been doing this for a while. I have my tricks, but they are top secret! I will eventually share them, however, with someone who is a hard worker, eager, and sincere.

Lastly, give back! Donate your time to help those in need as often as you can via Habitat for Humanity, your local church or synagogue, or even go directly to the elderly/disabled neighbor or the friend who has been out of work for a while. Trust me, karma is a you-know-what, so this can and will only help you. It’s my understanding that The Tile Gods look very favorably upon this last piece of advice.