Office Hours: Jeweler and Artemest Founder Ippolita Rostagno’s Home Work Space
The loftlike top floor of a 19th-century Brooklyn brownstone provides the perfect setting for creative multitasking
When renovating her 19th-century Brooklyn townhouse from the ground up a little over five years ago, Ippolita Rostagno didn’t prioritize a home studio. The jewelry designer and founder of Italian artisan retail website Artemest knew she needed a place to think and create away from the workshop. No stranger to Park Slope, she’s spent the past 20 years on the same block and reflects that right now her street is as quiet as she remembers when she first moved there. It’s provided the perfect atmosphere for focusing on new designs for her innovative jewelry and helping artisans in Artemest navigate the shutdown in Italy. Her respect and passion for artisans and their craft are a thread through both of her interests.
“I have two or three jewelry projects going on and work on Artemest here as well,” explains Rostagno, who grew up in Florence. “I divide my team about 50-50, but I was just on the phone with Italy. Things are picking up there. Some artisans have continued to work, because they live and work in the same place.”
Here, she shares some of the incredible details that keep her creative while she works from home.
LIGHT IT UP
“The studio is the entire top floor, so I put in skylights to create really great light. Having the light directly above is not ideal; instead, I have the tables aligned in the center of the room. I discovered that I need the suffused light, so I’m not working with a shadow. I also have vintage overhead task lights from Olde Good Things.”
“These are four separate desks, and I take turns working at all of them. On the desk against the wall, I surround myself with things that are meaningful and inspirational. Photographs, poems, a Weight Watchers zero-point card, which has gone out the window by now.”
TABLE THE MATTER
“I had the worktables made and got the legs from Olde Good Things. They’re factory tables; the guys that made the built-in shelving units make the tops. They are heavy, hard to move, and wonderful to work at—and considering that I’ve been working on them every day for years they look amazing.”
“Everything is built in except for the Alias desk chairs. These are the most comfortable chair I’ve ever sat in, and they’re super rolly. I haven’t been able to find them again, and I just love them.”
“I’m a real old-fashioned person, so I like paper. I would have ten flat files if I could. I have art supplies and tear sheets for both Artemest and my jewelry world. They’re so incredibly useful if you’re a paper person. When I spend all my time online looking up things, I drift too far away from the physical world.”
“I have art supplies at the ready and you think you have all this space and then every nook and cranny is full. I have more home decor magazines stacked on shelves. You get so attached to the collection being intact and then you realize you haven’t looked at them. Now I’m looking at them. In this current time, when you can’t go out and accumulate new things, I reference old things and magazine tears.”
“I also created a little rest area. I go back and forth between my work space and my think space. The small tables of petrified wood slices with hammered-bronze legs are from a home line that I had for a while. It’s been fun to decorate over time rather than insta-decorating. I got the chairs in Florence at the original Flair. That’s a sculpture of a pearl necklace made out of ostrich eggs. My dad had ostriches, so we have lots of eggs.”
“The garden is my other office where I work when it’s sunny. I find my work and inspiration there is completely different than when inside.”
“I’m on the board of the New York Academy of Art and am a big believer that art matters. So I have artwork from students there throughout my house, and I never stop acquiring more. There are paintings that are waiting to be hung somewhere, including a portrait of my nephew that my niece did. Being surrounded by these works brings so much to my creativity.”