Ippolita’s Park Slope Townhouse
February 12, 2014
Designer and artist Ippolita Rostagno is famous for designing sculptural jewelry. It revolves around organic forms, hand-hammered silver and gold pieces, many times joined with softly faceted stones, laser-cut mother of pearl and even pave diamonds. Take these to a larger scale and Ippolita’s aesthetic becomes evident in the form of closet doors, wall tiles, lamps, mirrors and art that fill her stylish townhouse.
There’s no better way of understanding a designer’s aesthetic and creative references than taking a look inside their dearest spaces. We were glad to be invited to one of Ippolita’s homes, the Park Slope brownstone, where she has her own studio on the top floor. Modern artistic references blend with Italian flair and the old soul of the townhouse itself. You will find her creative touch in every room of the house, from collaborations with several artists, to her signature lollipop designs and blown-glass lamps and mirror. More than a creative space, this is Ippolita’s oasis from Manhattan. See our conversation ahead!
NM: How did you discover your townhouse in Park Slope?
IR: I’ve lived in Park Slope for over twenty years, moving five times within a three-block radius! I always loved this house, and when I saw that the bottom apartment was for sale I acted right away. My neighbor upstairs decided to move in 2011, so I bought her unit and began a renovation to turn the building into a single-family home.
NM: How would you describe this house?
IR: It’s got an old soul – beautiful “brownstone bones” – but I modernized it for light and comfort and added many of my signature sculptural touches. It is truly my sanctuary!
NM: Do you regularly work here, as well?
IR: I do – I have a beautiful studio on the top floor that is filled with daylight – I’ve spent MANY a productive day here.
NM: You regularly work with different metals, gems, rocks, etc., how different is it to envision design objects on a much larger scale than jewelry?
IR: I view everything in life – jewelry, clothing, objets – with a sculptor’s eye. My inclination is to showcase the natural beauty of a material in the best way, and often scale has a lot to do with it. Materials with large patterns, like some types of marble or wood, are best as large sculptural objects that will highlight the grain. More precious gems will shine when treated with more regard for their rarity and sparkle.
NM: Tell us about your collaborations with different artists –for instance, with ceramicist Giovanni Vettori –that can be found throughout the house and patio.
IR: Given the choice, I always prefer to make something unique than to purchase something ready-made. Over the years, I worked with Kanik Chung, my glass-blowing partner, on one of a kind mirrors and objets for my home. I love Italian ceramics so I collaborated with the well-known Florentine ceramicist Giovanni Vettori on a wall of ceramic tiles for my kitchen. And for my new master bedroom I worked with the team from Amuneal in Philadelphia on custom closet doors of oversize bezels featuring rock crystals cut in my iconic Lollipop shape.
NM: We find the mix of dark wood and steel, as well as the glass doors, and mirrors within the neutral space very interesting. What were your first stylistic ideas when you started designing the interiors of your house?
IR: I liked the idea of creating an unexpectedly modern interior in a traditional Victorian frame, so I picked two strong and somewhat industrial materials –American walnut and blackened steel—to create that juxtaposition. I’m a fan of creating simple neutral environments that can then be softened by a few soft accessories. Hand blown glass adds a touch of glamour without being overpowering. I wanted to be able to “see” all of the unique elements in the home –there’s a new discovery around each corner.
NM: Do you have a favorite room in the house?
IR: That’s a tough one –it’s a toss-up between my studio and my bedroom. My studio is filled with light which makes me feel upbeat and energized. My bedroom is luxurious and soothing and therefore the place where I TRULY relax.
NM: Do you see yourself more as a sculptor than a jewelry designer?
IR: I believe that the two are the same –jewelry is sculpture on a different scale.
NM: What is the most special design object or painting in your Park Slope home?
IR: I have to say that my favorite piece is the glass “flame” mirror that hangs in my kitchen. It is one of the first pieces I worked on with Kanik. He recently lost his battle with cancer, so every time I look in the mirror I think of all of our years in the studio together.
NM: Tell us about the Kiki Smith portrait of you and your daughter.
IR: Kiki is a good friend and I love the fact that she is focused on her journey as an artist and constantly challenges herself by working in different mediums. Maya and I posed at different times, and Kiki also made some life size tracings of us so we had no idea what the final result was going to be like. I remember that she was kind of surprised when I arrived in jeans for my sitting, and later I thought, “Yeah, how come I didn’t dress up in a gown?” The final work is perfect as it captures my daughter’s whimsical nature and even nods to the only shiny things I never take off.
NM: What feeling do you get living in Park Slope, as opposed to your houses in Tuscany and The Hamptons?
IR: To me, Park Slope is a small community that’s filled with vibrancy –it’s a warm, comforting and friendly place to live. I love that so many young people with entrepreneurial spirits populate the neighborhood –there is always something new to see!
Photos by Lexie Moreland.