There’s design, and then there’s Italian design. And entrepreneur Marco Credendino, a native to southern Italy, knows it. That’s why his latest venture, Artemest, brings some of the best and most coveted Italian statement pieces to a global audience.
Credendino founded Artemest—headquartered in Milan and New York—with business partner Ippolita Rostagno in 2015, him serving as CEO opposite her as creative director. Together, they’ve brought bespoke Italian pieces to the (digital) world stage. Artemest functions as an ecommerce luxury curator—think: Sotheby’s meets Saatchi Art and Net-a-Porter.
Credendino is barely 30, but in his words, “I’ve had multiple lives in terms of things I’ve done in my past.” He went to a military academy in Naples. Then he studied business in Milan, followed by another degree in Shanghai. He moved to New York to work as a venture capitalist. At this point, his fervor in entrepreneurship and the ecommerce space was already taking shape. Credendino decided to follow those interests, heading back to his Italian roots, setting up in Milan and working at Net-a-Porter, specifically in mergers and corporate development in the CEO’s office. While working at Yoox (a division of Net-a-Porter), he met Ippolita Rostagno, and the creative, entrepreneurial team came up with the concept for Artemest.
“Given my experience in ecommerce and her willingness to give back to the Italian craftsmen,” they were perfectly poised to bring the lesser-known luxury boutiques of Italy to the rest of the world, says Credendino. Their combined knowledge of high-end European exports allows them to deliver access to consumers looking for bespoke, one-of-a-kind home goods and furnishings.
To see the extent to which Artemest can transform home interiors, one need only step into the home of Marco Credendino.
He lives in a brand-new Milan apartment in a building that's high-concept and extremely modern. All of the units have sweeping gardens or terraces, a rarity in Milan, a particularly crowded city with limited green space.
“Really, I’m the owner of a garden with some rooms attached, rather than an apartment with a garden,” quips Credendino.
In direct contrast to the cutting-edge building design, Credendino’s decor plays on modern and historical elements of Italian art. The underlying theme? “We selected every single product I have in my apartment from an artisan of Artemest,” he says.
The contrast of a modern apartment and more traditional Italian interior pieces is an exemplification of Milan itself, as Credendino sees it. The juxtaposition illustrates how the city is growing rapidly, moving at top speed into the future, while simultaneously preserving the legacy of Italian art and design.
“I love the contrast between the new and the old, the traditional and the modern,” Credendino says.
This concept brings the true impetus behind Artemest to light. At their core, they are a company working to preserve the legacy of Italian craftsmanship.
Artemest, just a five-year-old company, is now home to the “largest network of contemporary, high-end design companies.”
These artisans, says Credendino, are phenomenal manufacturers with keen vision, making them leaders in the art and design space. But their marketing and ecommerce skills are not as less honed.
“They often don’t know how to create content, how to speak English, how to find the right customers, how to ship worldwide, or how to get involved in B2B projects,” says Credendino. “And these businesses are super small—they can’t hire a team to support their digital ecommerce needs.”
So, Credendino created that team in Milan, and Artemest now fills that need for the nearly 1,000 creators in the company's network.
“The reality is, these companies are so important to the artistic and cultural heritage of our country, that [we must] do something for these companies to allow them to survive,” says Credendino.
It’s this sentiment that moves Credendino on a daily basis. Artemest can, in effect, change the lives of these artisans. “Say, you’re a small entrepreneur who makes gold leaf vases in Florence,” explains Credendino. “We put you in touch [with a buyer] and help you sell a potential project for a villa in Bel Air or Miami.
The buyers are equally drawn to this concept, and intrigued by the possibility of acquiring bespoke pieces from hard-to-reach design houses in Europe.
Connecting these artisans with tastemakers and design lovers around the world also opens the door for custom projects, as Credendino points out. “One of the big issues with [large-scale] furniture brands is customers like the product but might want a different size, color, or material, and we can help manage [those customizations at Artemest].”
To further personalize the experience, Credendino expanded Artemest to New York, where they now have a by-appointment-only showroom. “Come, show us your apartment, villa, whatever you want, and we have a team of professional interior designers that will support you, source the right products, and customize them,” says Credendino.
Even if Credendino and Rostagno didn’t have the showroom in their original business plan, growing their company to be not only a distributor of luxury goods but a way for consumers to connect and collaborate with high-end designers and artisans is exactly what they always envisioned for Artemest.