“Italy has always been synonymous with beauty, art, crafts and quality,” says Ippolita Rostagno. No one would argue with such a claim. After all, the country is considered the birthplace of Western civilization — not to mention the Renaissance.
Ippolita Rostagno. Photo by Troy Word.
Florence-born, Brooklyn-based Rostagno knows firsthand. The luxury personality and founder of the eponymous jewelry brand Ippolita, recently decided to capitalize on her home country’s artisan traditions with a new e-commerce site for high-end crafts made in Italy. Launched this past June, Artemest offers a selection of over 1,000 artistic, handmade products by Italian craftsmen and designers; many of them bespoke and custom commissions.
“So many of Italy’s great arts and crafts traditions risk being lost,” she says. “There is an incredible number of Italian artisans and makers who realize these extraordinary creations, continuing ancient and valuable traditions. The mission of Artemest is to bring their amazing products and stories to an international public of art estimators and lovers of beauty.”
Previews® Inside Out recently caught up with the visionary entrepreneur to ask her about her new digital venture, and where she sees craftsmanship and artistry fitting into today’s bespoke landscape.
Previews Inside Out What was the catalyst that led you to start Artemest?
Ippolita Rostagno Artemest was inspired by a single imperative — I am a slave to beauty. A lifetime spent in the company of craftsmen has taught me that shaping raw materials into beautiful objects with care, creativity and skill is a powerful experience. I grew up in Florence, the art capital of Italy, therefore I feel like most Italians; that art is the best expression of civilization. This conviction has prompted me to follow my heart and create a roadmap for everyone interested in learning about the products, methods and heritage of our passionate creators.
Previews Inside Out How much has your home country and its crafting tradition influenced Artemest?
Ippolita Rostagno The advantage given from Italy is that we absorb the aesthetic importance passively — Italian artisans were born in their dimensions. Furthermore, there’s no other place in the world where you can find so many makers that follow and preserve century-old traditions. This is a key factor that in the end allows them to create pieces of superior quality, which you cannot find anywhere else in the world.
Previews Inside Out What is the most expensive offering you currently have on your site?
Ippolita Rostagno Our most expensive piece is the marble tabletop “La Bellezza” by Traversari Mosaici. It’s a majestic tabletop, entirely realized with semi-precious stones and black Belgian marble, combined in order to make an extraordinary mosaic. It’s impressive to think about the combination of materials and manufacturing process that is in that mosaic.
Ippolita Rostagno Websites like 1stdibs are the proof that high-end products like antiques, iconic and vintage furniture, fine art, fashion and jewelry are winners in the online luxury market. Still, with Artemest we aim at creating a storytelling channel whose aim is to give a full experience on the quality and the history of our products, through curated videos and a dedicated magazine. Only in this way are we able to actually communicate the amazing quality and story that lies behind our products.
Previews Inside Out What does bespoke mean to you, in terms of our current luxury landscape, where so many transactions are happening online?
Ippolita Rostagno Bespoke means that a new pattern is created for each individual customer — no limits on options regardless of complexity. It means having direct contact with the person constructing the garment. Bespoke has become an exhausted term in the luxury industry, and it loses meaning each and every time a made-to-measure luxury company uses it incorrectly. The real bespoke is the one for which a new suit is done by a tailor in his “bottega,”starting to draw on a new cloth with a chock.
Previews Inside Out Is there a personal element to the Artemest experience as well?
Ippolita Rostagno Artemest is bespoke by nature. The artisans’ production processes do not follow any standardized process, and any product is unique and fully customizable. Clients also have the chance to customize their products by directly contacting our dedicated concierge service, which we developed to satisfy our clients’ most ambitious or personal needs.
Previews Inside Out How do you find the artisans featured on your site?
Ippolita Rostagno I always consider two factors: the product itself and the maker. All the products that we select are one of a kind and we are interested in highlighting the materials they are made from, the manufacturing techniques, the preciousness of their details or the story hiding behind them. Our artisans are really what makes the on-site products truly one of a kind. We only onboard the most representative Italian craftsmen, artists and designers, after they have deepened their stories and entered their realities. This mixed with their ability, adds real value to our products.
Previews Inside Out In terms of bespoke commissions on your site, what are some of the most unusual?
Ippolita Rostagno A few weeks ago, a customer asked us to build a custom bust, reproducing a picture portrait of his.
Murano Glass White Lilies Bouquet by Lilla Tabasso, $1,400. Available on www.artemest.com.
Previews Inside Out Which piece are you eyeing for your home right now?
Ippolita Rostagno I love the Murano, glass flower bouquet from Lilla Tabasso — the white lilies one is absolutely my favorite. She is able to make extraordinary realistic flower bouquets, and the fact that they are in Murano glass makes them even more delicate and beautiful than real flowers!
Previews Inside Out Do you see an intersection between real estate and Artemest? If so, where is it for you?
Ippolita Rostagno Real estate agencies today offer a full range of services spacing from the construction project to the interior design project. Right in this moment, we are building a network of architects and decorators, in order to give them access to our assortment with “to the trade conditions.” No one else has been able to provide a decorator with such a complete assortment of unique high-end pieces that can be entirely customized so far.
Previews Inside Out What’s next on the horizon for Artemest?
Ippolita Rostagno The online platform launched on June 24, so we are only at the tip of the iceberg, but our ambition is to become the most authoritative international showcase for exceptional Italian art and crafts. In the near future, we have some exciting new projects — like the inclusion of exceptional accessories in our assortment and the creation of a gift collection.