A Lisa Frank hotel pop-up sold out in less than an hour. An independent artist says it’s a rip-off of her Insta-famous apartment.

A side-by-side comparison of the Lisa Frank kitchen and Amina Mucciolo's kitchen, with an inset photo of Mucciolo..

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A side-by-side comparison of the Lisa Frank kitchen and Amina Mucciolo’s kitchen, with an inset photo of Mucciolo..
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Amina Mucciolo

  • An independent artist known for her vibrant home decor has accused a hotel pop-up of copying her designs without crediting or compensating her.
  • Amina Mucciolo lives in a pastel paradise of her own design in downtown LA. Her personal home decor, which she calls her “Cloudland” installation, went viral in 2017.
  • Mucciolo’s personal style and artwork were noticed by the Lisa Frank Instagram account, which followed her, commented on her posts, reposted her posts, and sent her DMs several times in 2017 and 2018. Mucciolo shared screenshots of the interactions with Insider.
  • In early October, hotels.com announced that it was partnering with Lisa Frank for a hotel pop-up in a penthouse suite designed with the iconic cutesy, rainbow brand. Reservations sold out in under an hour.
  • Immediately, Mucciolo’s fans began to notice striking similarities between the pop-up’s design and Mucciolo’s home. Not only were the two spaces decorated with vibrant, colorful prints, but the penthouse itself had the same layout and design elements as “Cloudland,” down to stuffed animals on the kitchen shelves and a nearly identical kitchen table and chairs.
  • Shortly after, Mucciolo told Insider she received an invitation to take a “first look” at the “Lisa Frank Flat.” That’s when she realized it was housed in her apartment building’s sister facility across the street.
  • Mucciolo, who is facing eviction after her apartment’s management company refused to accept her rent payment in August, began speaking out about what she believes are large corporations stealing and profiting off her work.
  • Hotels.com told Insider that “suggestions that our design was based on anything other than Lisa Frank and her artwork are simply not true.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The “Lisa Frank Flat” is a 90s-kid dream for any influencer or traveler looking to stay in a hotel that offers nostalgic decor, vibrant photo ops, and kitschy amenities. For its neighbor across the street, it has become a nightmare.

Amina Mucciolo, known online by her social media handles @studiomucci, is an independent artist best-known for her rainbow aesthetic and Insta-famous apartment, which she has nicknamed “Cloudland.” In 2017, Mucciolo went viral with her “Rainbow Unicorn House,” located in downtown LA.

Mucciolo has over 258,000 Instagram followers, and up until recently, one of them was the iconic brand Lisa Frank. The company’s designs and Mucciolo’s personal style share a colorful similarity, and Lisa Frank’s account interacted with Mucciolo several times in 2017 and 2018, according to screenshots of comments, reposts, and DMs viewed by Insider.

Lisa Frank’s account commented rainbow, heart, and smiley face emojis on Mucciolo’s Instagram pictures, reposted them with credit on its own Instagram stories and on its Facebook page, and sent her DMs with positive comments and more emojis, including one that said “You truly inspire people.”

But when the Lisa Frank Flat collaboration between the brand and hotels.com was announced – and went on to sell out of reservations in less than an hour – Mucciolo realized the $199-a-night pop-up looked eerily similar to “Cloudland.”

Mucciolo demonstrated the similarities between her own apartment and the Lisa Frank Flat in social media posts. Apart from the color scheme, other elements were seemingly inspired by Mucciolo, including stuffed animals placed in the kitchen shelving.

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Mucciolo demonstrated the similarities between her own apartment and the Lisa Frank Flat in social media posts. Apart from the color scheme, other elements were seemingly inspired by Mucciolo, including stuffed animals placed in the kitchen shelving.
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Twitter/@StudioMucci

“I opened my phone and I saw all of these notifications on my phone from people tagging me and telling me,” Mucciolo told Insider. “When I first saw all of the photos, not only did I notice they had stolen my actual design ideas, but I also noticed that everything else about the apartment was like my apartment. The floors were the same, everything was so similar.”

As Mucciolo read through comments she was tagged in asking if she designed the Lisa Frank Flat or if she would be making an appearance there as an influencer (screenshots of which were reviewed by Insider), she noticed that some of the comments about her were being deleted. The next day, she received an email from a PR company associated with Lisa Frank inviting her to take a “first look” at the flat. Insider reviewed a PDF of the email.

The address of the flat was included. That’s when Mucciolo realized it was being housed across the street, in another building owned by her management company. The two buildings are “sisters,” according to informational blurbs found online, and the layout of Mucciolo’s apartment is nearly identical to the Lisa Frank Flat.

Mucciolo panicked, and began posting online about what was happening, with photo comparisons of the two apartments. Her posts have received traction on Twitter and Instagram, and Lisa Frank’s account unfollowed her.

One of the design elements that the Lisa Frank Flat and Mucciolo's

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One of the design elements that the Lisa Frank Flat and Mucciolo’s “Cloudland” share is a gallery wall decorated with whimsical, framed prints. The Lisa Frank Flat uses its custom designs and hotels.com branding instead.
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Twitter/@StudioMucci

She says Lisa Frank has ignored her, but hotels.com replied on Twitter to say, “We love that you appreciate colorful design too, but this flat was curated with Lisa Frank’s signature prints. It was custom built for the two-week pop up at a short-term rental unit.”

Mucciolo told Insider she’s heartbroken to see people “eating up” the design of the Lisa Frank Flat, when she would have gladly taken a job to design it herself, based off her own interior decor.

Read more: An artist says makeup brand Anastasia Beverly Hills copied their artwork for a campaign, but one of the brand’s leaders says it’s just a coincidence

“I don’t even think the [Lisa Frank Flat] design is good. And I don’t want any association with some corporate, soulless copy of my work,” Mucciolo said. “They used my ideas and covered it with their characters and hoped that would be enough to mask it. Had they done this in a different building it would have been smarter, because it would be harder to identify.”

Mucciolo believes she should receive royalties from the Lisa Frank Flat, and she wants Lisa Frank and hotels.com to admit it was directly inspired by her work.

“I am tired of these huge corporations stealing from independent artists, throwing the rock, and then hiding their hand and pretending it never happened,” she said. “I’m queer, I’m autistic, I’m black, and I’m at the height of someone they think is disposable. I just feel like if we’re quiet about this it becomes the status quo.”

A recent photo of Mucciolo from her Instagram account, and two photo illustrations she created to illustrate a striking similarity between her own kitchen table and chairs and the ones in the Lisa Frank Flat.

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A recent photo of Mucciolo from her Instagram account, and two photo illustrations she created to illustrate a striking similarity between her own kitchen table and chairs and the ones in the Lisa Frank Flat.
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Instagram/@studiomucci

Hotels.com provided Insider with the following statement:

“This room was inspired solely by Lisa Frank and designed in partnership with Lisa Frank using iconic elements of her work from the ’80s and ’90s. The flat is being hosted in an existing short-term rental property and is not located in the same building. Suggestions that our design was based on anything other than Lisa Frank and her artwork are simply not true. The two-week pop-up experience is temporary and for promotional use only and will end on October 28. No tenant was asked to move or leave their home for this project.”

Representatives for Lisa Frank did not respond to Insider’s request for comment. This is not the first time the brand has come under scrutiny for its business practices – in 2013, Jezebel reported that the company was struggling financially and had become toxic work environment for its employees.

The Lisa Frank Flat's living room compared to Mucciolo's living room.

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The Lisa Frank Flat’s living room compared to Mucciolo’s living room.
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Twitter/@StudioMucci

Initially, when Mucciolo learned about the Lisa Frank Flat, she connected the dots between it and her ongoing threat of eviction. In her first social media posts about the flat, she wrote, “I believe I’m being evicted because of the Lisa Frank hotel. Our landlord refused payment & wanted us out before the launch.”

After reflecting on the situation, Mucciolo said she’s unsure whether the two incidents are linked, though she believes that there could be a motivating factor for her to be evicted if her management company is working with the Lisa Frank Flat, because her apartment serves as “direct competition” for the media attention received by the Lisa Frank Flat.

Mucciolo and her partner, Salvatore, have lived in the apartment since 2016. In August, the two attempted to make a late rent payment, and were told it would not be accepted. In September, they tried to negotiate with the management company in housing court. But they didn’t reach an agreement, so a trial is set to begin at the end of October. The two are seeking donations for legal and relocation fees through a GoFundMe campaign.

The Lisa Frank Flat bedroom compared to Mucciolo's bedroom.

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The Lisa Frank Flat bedroom compared to Mucciolo’s bedroom.
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Twitter/@StudioMucci

Currently, the couple is represented by a nonprofit community lawyer in their tenant dispute, but are seeking an intellectual property lawyer to pursue a case against Lisa Frank and hotels.com, as well as a more dedicated legal team in their tenant dispute.

The two are still living in “Cloudland,” but have no intention of staying once the tenant dispute is resolved. Security deposit aside, Mucciolo plans to repaint all of the walls and remove all of her custom decor.

“This all came from my brain, I can do it again,” she said. “It’s just the circumstances and the bullying and the lying and everything that is making this a terrifying, traumatic, frustrating experience.”

Read more: 33 artists whose hits were accused of ripping off other songs

The Lisa Frank Flat was leased through Barsala, a company that rents apartments and leases them for short-term stays. It partners with corporate institutions including Salesforce, Lyft, Google, and Microsoft, according to its website. Hotels.com told Insider that Barsala is the tenant of the Lisa Frank Flat, and that bookings for Barsala’s rooms are available at hotels.com.

Barsala didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Cannon Management, which owns both Mucciolo’s apartment building and the sister building that houses the Lisa Frank Flat, didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment. Hotels.com told Insider it did not work with Cannon Management directly and had no knowledge or involvement in Mucciolo’s housing situation.