The story of how a Connecticut-based design distributor is introducing some of the best classic and contemporary European lighting designs to choice projects across North America.

Tripping the light fantastic on LA's Melrose Avenue thanks to Ameico. The go-to design distributor has become a leader in the provision of select European lighting brands to discerning North American architects and planners

THE NEW ILLUMINATI: AMEICO | News

Tripping the light fantastic on LA's Melrose Avenue thanks to Ameico. The go-to design distributor has become a leader in the provision of select European lighting brands to discerning North American architects and planners

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'Is that a Max Bill watch you're wearing?'

Ameico founder and owner Peter Kahane knows his design. When we meet in Zurich for a coffee, his smarts are on full display. Not in an overbearing way, you understand; he wears them lightly. And it's maybe because of this that the very affable Swiss-American has managed to become one of the most trusted wholesale distributors for design in North America, partnering with a raft of architects, interior architects and planners on a diversity of projects.

A native of Zurich, Kahane studied economics and business administration before entering the world of commodity trading. Following a stint in Japan, he decided to head for the States with his wife, Stephanie, to manage a manufacturing company that was licensed to produce textile creative Jack Lenor Larson’s designs. As is sometimes the case in life, things didn’t work out. But New York certainly did.

The Californian outpost of Scandi fashion brand Ganni, designed by Stockholm-based studio Stamuli, sees Danish architect PV Jensen-Klint's 101 pendant lights from Le Klint – courtesy of Ameico – installed at varying, architecturally considered, heights

THE NEW ILLUMINATI: AMEICO | News

The Californian outpost of Scandi fashion brand Ganni, designed by Stockholm-based studio Stamuli, sees Danish architect PV Jensen-Klint's 101 pendant lights from Le Klint – courtesy of Ameico – installed at varying, architecturally considered, heights

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The couple were determined to stay in their adoptive city, and Kahane set to work establishing his own business – as he tells the story, out of his tiny apartment in Greenwich Village. Giving it possibly the most generic name ever devised, Ameico, which stands for American Export-Import Company (‘To be honest, Kahane admits, ‘I didn’t know exactly what I’d be getting involved in’), it was always about personal passion. ‘I felt, and still feel today, that if I could find or develop products that I would personally like to live with, there must be like-minded people who would support such a business.’

He was right.


Kahane put his design-curatorial savvy to work, creating a company that’s committed to selecting the best of what’s out there in terms of products. In the process, he brought on board a number of hand-picked, like-minded colleagues, too


Kahane put his design-curatorial savvy to work, creating a company that’s committed to selecting the best of what’s out there in terms of products. In the process, he brought on board a number of hand-picked, like-minded colleagues, too. The result is a specialist, 18-strong team that knows its stuff. With its showroom housed in a former red-brick telephone exchange in downtown New Milford, Connecticut, Ameico has, over the course of its 25 years in business, developed a particular consulting expertise in the field of interior lighting.

Swiss-American founder and owner of Ameico, Peter Kahane, and his wife, Stephanie: ‘I felt that if I could find or develop products that I would personally like to live with, there must be like-minded people who would support such a business’

THE NEW ILLUMINATI: AMEICO | News

Swiss-American founder and owner of Ameico, Peter Kahane, and his wife, Stephanie: ‘I felt that if I could find or develop products that I would personally like to live with, there must be like-minded people who would support such a business’

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‘Begin as you mean to go on’ could easily be Kahane’s slogan, having started by distributing luminaires from celebrated design grandee Michele de Lucchi’s Produzione Privata. ‘Lighting for me is about beauty as much as functionality,’ says Kahane. ‘Beautiful objects that happen to have a bulb in them, that help to shape space.’ A raft of impressive reference projects across a range of contract settings – where Ameico has supplied both product and know-how – testify to this, among them libraries at Princeton and Columbia Universities and over a dozen WeWork coworking spaces.


‘Lighting for me is about beauty as much as functionality,’ says Kahane. ‘Beautiful objects that happen to have a bulb in them, that help to shape space’


But it’s perhaps in the retail sector where Ameico has brought its competence to bear most clearly. Take the LA outpost of Danish fashion brand Ganni, whose interiors were designed by Stockholm-based studio Stamuli. Having created a number of Ganni spaces, including their London and Milan stores, the eponymous Emanuele Stamuli and his team turned to Ameico for the specification of lighting for the Californian boutique.

While assuming interior designer duties for his Drama Club store in Brooklyn, owner Jack Sachs crossed paths with the Ameico team – a happy collaboration that resulted in Original BTC’s Titan pendants and NYTA’s Tilt lights being chosen for the space

THE NEW ILLUMINATI: AMEICO | News

While assuming interior designer duties for his Drama Club store in Brooklyn, owner Jack Sachs crossed paths with the Ameico team – a happy collaboration that resulted in Original BTC’s Titan pendants and NYTA’s Tilt lights being chosen for the space

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Located on Melrose Avenue, Ganni LA articulates a Scandi aesthetic, in line with the label it houses. ‘Classic Danish furniture and newly design items merge here, where each material featured has a story to tell,’ says Stamuli. Ameico was asked to advise on what would work for the scheme in terms of decorative luminaires, with Danish architect PV Jensen-Klint’s 101 pendant lights from Le Klint – just one of the choice European lighting brands that it represents – ultimately being specified for the space to significant architectural effect.

‘The Le Klint pendants have been installed at different heights,’ explains Stamuli, ‘increasingly lower as customers progress through the store. This, together with the increasingly smaller portals, creates the illusion that the store is longer than it actually is, delivering a surprise experience for the shopper.’ There were no surprises when it came to the execution of the order, however. ‘A big part of Ameico’s valuable contribution were their import and logistics operations. They really facilitated the process, making us feel like we were actually working in Europe.’

The lights work at WeWork, even when they’re off. Decorative lighting in the form of Verner Panton’s FlowerPot pendant lamps, produced by Danish brand &Tradition and supplied by Ameico, in-situ at the Midtown East co-working space in Manhattan

THE NEW ILLUMINATI: AMEICO | News

The lights work at WeWork, even when they’re off. Decorative lighting in the form of Verner Panton’s FlowerPot pendant lamps, produced by Danish brand &Tradition and supplied by Ameico, in-situ at the Midtown East co-working space in Manhattan

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West Coast to East Coast: Brooklyn’s Drama Club concept store prides itself on its considered edit of fashion brands, accessories and home goods. Owner Jack Sachs became his own client when he decided to open the retail venue, committing to design the interiors himself. His sharp curatorial eye led him to bring Ameico on board. ‘After getting to see their compelling edit of lighting brands and products, we knew we had found the right partner. From the thoughtful assortment of important lighting designers to its impressive digital visual presentation, it was clear Ameico shared our passion of products that stood out from others.’ And so Original BTC’s Titan pendant and Mast wall lights, as well as Tilt lights from NYTA, are among the designs that now serve to lend Drama Club its very own interior-architectural drama.

Sachs also makes a point of Ameico’s integrity. Not only in terms of its products (every imported lighting product is retro-engineered to meet UL lighting-safety certification in the US), but also in terms of its people. ‘They vouched for all the lines and items we ordered, so we knew we were getting something our customers would appreciate for years to come.’

At Ameico, the lights are on and everyone’s home.

© Architonic

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