LONDON — Artemest, which works with more than 1,400 Italian artisans, is taking its online interior design platform to the streets of New York, opening its first physical showroom and gallery in Chelsea.
Artemest Galleria, which opens on Thursday, has been designed as a multitasking space. It will sell designs made by Italian artisans, with other artists and makers; serve as an events space, and an office where architects, interior designers and other clients can plan and source home decor, furniture and lighting.
The 5,000-square-foot showroom is located at 518 West 19th Street, across from David Zwirner Gallery. It is located on the ground floor of a building designed by Annabelle Selldorf of Selldorf Architects.
The space will open with a show called Blow that’s meant to highlight the skills and craftsmanship of Murano glassblowers as seen through the eyes of the Caribbean-born artist Bradley Theodore.
The space will be filled with Theodore’s large and small-scale works, which have a Pop Art feel — and look nothing like anyone’s idea of a traditional Murano glass chandelier. There are giant pineapple and palm installations, a colorful glass sculpture of Frida Kahlo and hand-painted wallpaper hung with skull-adorned mirrors.
The works have been created by the Italian glassblowers Ongaro e Fuga, Fratelli Tosi, Luci Italia, Specchi Veneziani, Multiforme, Venice Factory and Covi e Puccioni.
Blow, first presented in June at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, demonstrates just how different Artemest is from other furniture and interiors showrooms.
“We want to surprise and delight,” said Ippolita Rostagno, the cofounder and creative director of Artemest. Rostagno founded the company with Marco Credendino, Artemest’s chief executive officer, as a way of highlighting and supporting small, artisanal businesses up and down the Italian peninsula.
Artemest Galleria plans to tap a different artist, curator or maker every three months to interpret and showcase the skills of the craftspeople who work with Artemest.
Rostagno, a jeweler who is based between New York and Milan, said she and Credendino were determined not to open in New York’s furniture district because they wanted to focus on the intersection of art, craft — and modernity.
“We are really trying to get the message across that craft is not only tied to tradition or to a specific sort of Old World maker culture. It also can be reinvigorated with the influence of artists and designers and people who traditionally have not had access to this incredible wealth of craftsmanship and design. So we opened on West 19th Street and we’re in the heart of the of the art district,” Rostagno said.
New York, she added, was a natural place to open the first showroom because “it is the mecca of all design firms. The architects and interior designers are based here, and the U.S. is our first market, so it made sense to have a physical space where we can really meet with our community,” she added.
The new space also has a garden, where Artemest plans to host events and showcase outdoor furniture starting next spring. In addition to the garden and the gallery, there is a project room, a sample room and an office space for meetings.
The founders said that going forward there will also be a workshop space for architects, interior designers and private clients to work on residential and commercial projects and preview finishes, fabrics and materials.
Artemest was founded in 2015 with the aim of connecting Italian artisans and manufacturers with consumers and interior designers.
Rostagno and Credendino, who worked previously at Yoox Net-a-porter Group, said they wanted to breathe new life into crafts-based businesses. Today, Artemest sells thousands of high-end, handmade Italian products ranging from marble kitchenware and Murano glass lamps, to roomy leather armchairs and inlaid wood cabinets.
The site aims to do for artisans what Farfetch has done for small, multibrand retailers, taking care of international marketing; offering them a sales platform and digital and client services. Artemest does not hold any stock.
Earlier this year, Iris Ventures invested 15 million euros in the platform. In an interview, Credendino said that New York is just the beginning. The plan is to open three more showrooms in the next three years, most likely on the West Coast and in the Middle East.
He said the Artemest Galleria concept was crucial to the development of the brand as it allows the founders to “tell many different stories, engage and reengage with clients,” and build a like-minded community that’s passionate about, and supportive of, luxury, craftsmanship and keeping traditional skills alive.