Creating a delicate balance of nostalgia, timeless beauty and modern sophistication were top of mind for architect and interior designer Samuele Brianza when he thought about reenvisioning the Artemest Galleria.
The revamp and exhibit, “Essenza Italiana,” had to take the Manhattan gallery from a multifunctional gallery space to a hub vibing with character, brimming with conversation pieces. This was no easy task: Artemest is an online destination with more than 50,000 products by 1,400 artisans that represent the past, present and future of Italian craftsmanship and creativity.
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“We spent a lot of time discussing how we were going to display all these beautiful products, but at the same time, we wanted to create and experience,” Brianza, who is based in New York City, told WWD as he walked by a row of drapes made with fabric from fabled Venetian textile makers Rubelli and Bevilacqua. “The idea of ‘Essenza Italiana’ evolved around the sense of Italian beauty and how to capture that specific nostalgia, elegance and effortless balance you experience in a typical Italian palazzo,” Brianza said.
In addition to his own collection of marble, stone, metal and glass modular systems, Brianza has held several roles in the luxury fashion business, which he said enabled him to “capture the essence of Ippolita’s vision,” said jewelry designer Ippolita Rostagno, cofounder and creative director of Artemest. Rostagno cofounded Artemest with chief executive officer Marco Credendino in 2015.
Brianza’s career began in Milan more than 18 years ago, where he collaborated with the late Italian design maestro Rodolfo Dordoni and spent seven years as vice president of store design at Giorgio Armani’s headquarters. He later relocated to New York City to serve as the head of store design for Diane Von Furstenberg during the company’s rebranding and under the creative direction of Jonathan Saunders. Until June of this year, Brianza served as vice president of store design and planning at Tiffany & Co., contributing to the development of the new store design concept under LVMH.
Walking through the space newness is in harmony with the past, Rostagno and Brianza pointed out some standout pieces, like a romantic 24 light-Mechini chandelier made of intricate flora that sits above a modernist, futuristic custom-made counter by Brescia-based design carpentry firm Rivadossi. As pieces are sold, Rostagno said, the space will be filled with new ones.
“It’s almost impossible to pick a lane,” Rostagno said, adding that Italy’s imprint on art and design is hard to encapsulate in once space.” Part of the mission is to represent all of these artisans.
“Our intent with the Galleria was to showcase the wonderful breadth of contemporary Italian craftsmanship within a residential context,” she added, to capture the complexity of Italian style.
In parallel and in step with Brianza’s redesign, contemporary art dealer Samuele Visentin has been tapped to curate Artemest Galleria’s ongoing exhibition calendar with a selection of emerging Italian artists, starting with Antonio Fabozzi, who depicted classic Antica Roma archetypes.
Prior to the revamp, the galleria made a splash during New York Design Week in May when it hosted Milanese architecture and interior design firm Dimorestudio amid its foray onto the Big Apple circuit.
Envisaged as a museum-like exhibition featuring an exclusive capsule collection of one-of-a-kind furniture pieces by Dimorestudio, as well as a selection of Artemest pieces hand-picked by the Milan-based studio, the exhibit took over the 518 West 19th Street in what was a tribute to the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s heyday of American cinema.
The 5,000-square-meter Artemest Galleria opened in 2022 and was originally designed as a multitasking space. It was intended to sell designs made by Italian artisans, artists and makers and serve as an event space, as well as an office where architects, interior designers and other clients can plan and source home decor, furniture and lighting.
The building is located across the street from David Zwirner Gallery and minutes away from Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea.
As the business looks to expand, it has appointed Brian Brennan as vice president of U.S. operations. “This is a new position and he will be spearheading all consumer and trade business in the United States, as well as overseeing the expansion of Gallery spaces across the country,” Rostagno said, adding that the company hopes to open galleries in Los Angeles and Miami or West Palm Beach by late 2024 or early 2025.