Frank Ponterio has a relaxed kind of confidence that puts you at ease during a conversation, despite 27 years’ worth of accomplishments, fancy clients, and projects in the design world. Naples has been on his radar as a perfect place to make his stylish mark for a few years now, and he finally made a bold move and set up an official office in downtown Naples to welcome clients, showcase finishes, and draw out plans. While waiting and searching for the ideal home in Naples, he crashes in boutique hotels and then drives back to his wife in Anna Maria Island, where they have refurbished a chilled-out beach bungalow. He has fought hard to keep his business manage- able and team tight, only taking on clients that fit with his company’s core values and mission. Read on to learn about this renaissance man.
NI: Tell us about starting out in Chicago, as many Naples residents are also from Midwestern cities.
Ponterio: I grew up outside Chicago in Lake Zurich, and my family still lives there. I went to school at the Harrington College of Design, which was in the top three for interiors at the time. I was immersed in architecture and interiors, graduated in a recession, and got a job in project management of high-end construction for three years. Then I started my own firm, which I knew I wanted to do.
How do you define your design style?
I have an authentic take on design that’s still super approachable. I don’t just do one style.
I started doing residential legacy or heirloom homes, then an über-contemporary Nashville penthouse. We have architects on staff to complete interior architecture and we really understand that historical precedent doesn’t just mean 1920s, but 1970s as well. We understand design from an interior’s perspective and work with project architects to get a backdrop for all our soft goods and decorating.
What are some of your more unexpected projects and business expansions?
We’ve done boutique hotels, country clubs, and private aviation. Additionally, we have a line of products, including furniture, lighting, and accessories that’s licensed in more than 100 countries. Most recently, we launched a fabric collection for Clarence House, an iconic brand repped by Holly Hunt that has a nice following. I’m the first guest designer to do a collection for Clarence House.
Can you share some details about your family?
I met my wife, Becky, when I had an internship and she was a rep selling high-end floor coverings. I told my project manager, “I’m going to marry her.” Six months later, we bought a house together and have been married 26 years. Becky is still in the industry and does fun, custom projects. Our daughter, Isabella, graduated from Elon University in 2020 and works for Wintrust Bank. She lives in Chicago in the West Loop in a cool loft in the heart of it all. Isabella loves Naples and stayed with us here for six months during COVID-19.
How are you settling into Naples?
My office is on Pettit Square on the corner of Third Street South and 14th Avenue South—a great location. You’ll find me eating at Campiello or at Andre’s Steak House. I start my day at Bad Ass Coffee. When I have time for lunch, I’m at Ridgway’s eating outside before I walk back to work.