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MILAN — Little did Giorgio Armani know that when he embarked on the Armani Casa project in 2000, and did wenge wood furniture long before anyone else, that his minimalist collections would become major players on the international furniture scene.

Unlike some designer home collections, there’s more to Armani Casa than bed linens and vases as it has become a full-package division. Proving Armani Casa’s ongoing success is the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio just tapped Armani to design the interiors of his new home in Los Angeles.

“Armani Casa is known and understood as being a complete collection with the ability to furnish every room of an interior,” said Robert Triefus, executive vice president, worldwide communications. “Obviously, the products have an Armani point of view that our customers appreciate.”

Armani’s home division generated retail sales of 33 million euros, or $48.2 million at current exchange rates, in 2006 (last year’s figures were unavailable at press time) and annually posts double-digit growth.

The collections are available in 30 countries worldwide via 33 freestanding stores and some 60 shops-in-shops. The furniture, which includes pieces for the bathroom and kitchen, accounts for more than half of sales.

In the name of exclusivity, Armani established an interior design service based in Milan, London and New York, with Milan as the global coordinator for the bespoke projects, boosted by Armani’s involvement. At the moment the largest — and hence most secretive — projects in the works are in Singapore, Moscow and Rome.

“Our interior design service is also becoming an important aspect of our business with the growing desire for customization and personalization from our customers,” said Triefus.

Recent stints include the Armani Lounge area for the Chelsea Football Club inside the Stamford Bridge Stadium in London and the hallway, the show apartment, the library lounge and fitness center inside 20 Pine Street, a Twenties building in New York and former Chase Manhattan Bank headquarters that was transformed into a tony residence with 409 units.

Another project that is moving full steam ahead is the Armani Hotels and Resorts and the Armani Residences that will be furnished with Armani Casa collections. The first Armani hotel and the 144 residences at the Burj Dubai will launch early next year, while the drilling and blasting has begun to build the Armani hotel in Milan.

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