Design News: Q&A
June 28, 2015
Nicolo Melissa Antiques & Art
Nicolo Camisa and Melissa Magid, the husband-and-wife team behind The HighBoy dealer Nicolo Melissa Antiques, answer our
questions on the thrill of the hunt!
by New York Spaces
First comes work, then comes marriage: Six years ago, Melissa Magid teamed up with Italian transplant and second-generation antiques dealer Nicolo Camisa to launch a tiny New York City shop filled with impeccable European furniture, art, and accessories. A couple of years later, the pair said “I do,” making Nicolo Melissa Antiques a true family business, whose expertly curated HighBoy storefront will satisfy even the most discerning tastes.
How did you become interested in antiques?
Nicolo: I grew up in the business. My father is a dealer in Italy, and my family’s home was always filled with antiques. As I got older, I started gaining an appreciation for them myself. It was in my blood.
Melissa: I didn’t know much about antiques before Nicolo and I got married, but the first time he brought me to meet his family in Italy, I remember thinking his parents’ home was reminiscent of a museum: There were antiques everywhere. When his father started sharing stories behind each piece, though, that’s what got me. Nicolo inherited his passion—and it was contagious.
Tell us your favorite thing about being a dealer.
Melissa: Without a doubt, it’s the thrill of the hunt. There’s a real excitement to setting out, not knowing what you’re going to find, and a real joy that comes from uncovering a beautiful piece and getting to bring it home.
Where do you source your items?
Melissa: We’re always looking to acquire new pieces. Nicolo’s father buys large estates in Europe, which is a great source for us. We also buy from private collections, estate sales, and local auction houses, such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s, and from local walk-ins, too.
Nicolo: We’re extremely lucky to be based in New York City. It’s such an international place, where many people travel, and those people bring incredible things with them, which puts us in an incredible position to find beautiful things.
What’s the coolest item in your inventory right now?
Nicolo: We buy so much merchandise, it’s sometimes hard to remember! Currently, though, we have a gorgeous 15th Century Florentine Madonna & Child marble relief from Italy in the store that’s getting a lot of attention. It’s an unusual piece that tells a story. It’s very interesting.
Melissa: Nicolo’s the historian, so when he looks at something, he’s seeing it for more than just its good looks, but for me it’s about aesthetics, too. At the moment, we have this great 18th century Italian Louis XVI marble console table in inventory that’s a beautiful piece.
What do you collect personally and why?
Nicolo: I collect a lot of bronze and museum-quality Neoclassical pieces. I also love art, with a preference for micro-mosaics, 16th-century oil on canvas, and small sculptures from the Italian Renaissance.
Melissa: I don’t go out looking for things to collect, but I do have a hard time letting go of pieces once we’ve purchased them for the shop, like that marble console I mentioned. I get really attached!
Do you have any advice to fledgling antiques collectors?
Nicolo: Buy what you love. You’re the one who’s going to be living with it. Provenance is important to an extent, of course, but if you buy something that you hate to look at just because it’s a “good buy,” you’re missing the point.
If you could live in any place and age, where and when would it be—and why?Nicolo: I would love to live in Versailles during the age of Rococo and Louis XV. Everything they created was incredibly ornate and done with an extreme attention to detail. It was about extravagance and enjoying a rich and lavish life, which appeals to me.
Melissa: It would be the same for me. I love the silhouettes of the furniture with all their gorgeous curves. You can really feel the movement of the pieces; they draw you in.
Photography by Alex Broadwell