Artistica owners are partners in business – and in life
It was a match made in merchandise heaven – well, more accurately, the Merchandise Mart.
Marco Margaritelli, creator of Artistica, had a brand _ and Alice Ardam, an account executive in sales, wanted to open a store. During an event at the downtown trade center, they found each other a partner in business – and in life.
"It was like 'Veni, vidi, vici' – I came, I saw, I conquered," laughed Margaritelli. Thus was the beginning of Artistica Italian Gallery – with a marriage to follow. Upon entering the ceramic shop in Winnetka's Hubbard Woods Design District, one is greeted with a steaming cup of espresso coffee and an assortment of Italian candies and chocolates with a backdrop of Italian music. The personable duo chats away about their history before even a mention of sales. However, it's hard not to inquire about the reproductions of Renaissance pottery.
Artistica, Inc. – started in Miami in 1990 – is a leader in high-end Italian majolica, or tin-glazed pottery. Margaritelli's birthplace, Deruta, is known throughout the world for its ceramics, so it was an obvious business choice of Margaritelli to sell what he was most familiar with. The brand expanded into B2B wholesale with show-rooms in Las Vegas, Altanta and High Point, N.C. Artistica is now the largest wholesale importer of majolica wares in the country.
Gianni Versace chose Artistica's "Orcio" urns to decorate the patio and pool area of his South Beach home. TV shows on E!, Bravo, the Food Channel and ABC have also featured its products.
"We're surrounded by beauty - the merchandise sell itself," Margaritelli said.
The collection of more than 2,000 pieces comes from all over Italy: Amalfi, Abruzzi, Sicily and villages around Umbria and Tuscany, but the majority comes from the hilltop village of Deruta. The products, all molded and painted by hand, include, dinnerware, tableware and gifts items. Parmesan bowls, biscotti jars, Limoncello sets and gelato cups can infuse a room with Italian flair.
Last month, Ardam introduced black and white contemporary to appeal to the younger clientele.
"The business just keeps growing, and we keep buying new things," said Ardam, "but our goal is to stay traditional."
The Margaritellis make annual business trips to Deruta and various Italian villages to meet with artisans and help with the design process. The Italian workshops value their suggestions, which are bases off the requests of the ceramics market. They direct them on shapes and colors, but Artistica never strays far from 15th - and 16th – century patterns.
"We want people to feel the warmth of the product," said Margaritelli, "and also know that it's sold exclusively in our store, by real people – a husband-and-wife team."
- This article appeared on North Shore Weekend newspaper February 2014.
- After 17 years in Winnetka, IL Artistica Italian Gallery store relocated to a larger Showroom combined with their main Office and Warehouse at: 1874 Johns Drive - Glenview, IL 60025.