Imperial Services is a consulting firm that offers “Art As A Service” (AAAS). The common factor of all the firm’s services is they provide something deeper behind the stated service, whether psychological, aesthetic or social, or all three. Although not itself a work of art or an art project, Imperial Services pursues the idea that aesthetic experiences can be provided not in objects but in services, and presented in a professionalized package similar to other consulting firms.
Imperial Services was founded in 1956 in Chicago by Eugene Guarnieri, a semi-retired professor of psychology, amateur sculptor, and violist. As the child of a wealthy diplomat he traveled the world throughout his youth, living in Persia, Italy, Ethiopia, and Norway, eventually becoming fluent in five languages. After serving in in a secretive psy-ops division of the U.S. Army in World War II, Guarnieri taught at the University of Chicago, where he came into contact with an aesthetically rarefied world created by the educated and wealthy of the city. His social ties and savvy way with people eventually translated into informal consulting sessions held in upscale hotel bars, private clubs, museums, and homes.
The firm continues today as a hierarchy-free group of consultants who work together in a horizontal management structure developed by Guarnieri and continually refined by its members. Operating without fixed offices in many cases, and distributed throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe, members manage their own cells as well as referring clients to member consultants in other areas, depending on the service needed.
The launch of the Oakland, Calif. location of the company will be guided by consultants Dan Nelson and Lexa Walsh, and will take place at a temporary office located at ProArts Gallery in Nov.-Dec. 2019.