Ninfa.io is a newborn curated Non-Fungible Tokens marketplace for digital art and collectibles, launched in Milan, Italy. Under the motto "Collecting is Self Expression" Ninfa aims at becoming a unique platform for innovative digital creators, a point of reference for cutting-edge collectors, and a trusted partner to art galleries, curators, and brands willing to join this ecosystem. Operating from June 2022, Ninfa has already more than 700 international artists from over 90 countries, 30 galleries partner, and more than 1000 NFTs available on the platform. Find out more about Ninfa at the interview below.
First of all can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind starting NINFA, and how the gallery has evolved since its inception?
NINFA was founded by Brando Bonaretti, Carlo Borloni, Cosimo de Medici, and Pietro Barbini, four young professionals with years in strategic consulting, blockchain coding, and a passion for both art and cryptocurrencies, most of the team has been in the crypto market since 2017. The world is becoming more and more digital as we speak. Many human interactions and basic human activities are conducted entirely digitally or somehow impacted/enhanced by digital technologies. This is the metaverse to me, not necessarily a Virtual World, but the persistent and permanent presence of digital means in our life. In this context, it is evident that our digital selves are getting more and more important. But digital avatars, especially before NFTs, tend to be standardized accounts rather than personalities. Thus, individuals will feel the need to define their digital persona further and transmit all their tastes, preferences, and habits to their digital equivalents. How? There is no better way to express ourselves than collecting: items, artworks, collectibles, PFPs, or acquiring digital fashion items and metaverse objects/lands to personalize our digital life further.
The basic idea is to create a curated platform that becomes a one-stop shop for users seeking digital collectibles along different verticals, starting with art. A boutique where to personalize one's digital identity with varied works, items, and tickets. The opening of the gallery in Milan (Ninfa Labs) marked an important moment for us. At the moment, NINFA LABS is probably the only permanent marketplace-owned digital art gallery in the world.
However, the idea was not to be self-referential with exhibitions but to organize a mix of events and drops dedicated to the culture of crypto, NFT, and digital art also with the intent of educating the mainstream world. Since the opening in October, with about a thousand guests in attendance, we have collaborated on more than ten exhibitions with the world's biggest NFT collectors and artists. The space has now become a gathering place for key players in this field in Italy and for visiting international enthusiasts.
So how do you see NFTs changing the art world, and what opportunities do you think they present for artists and collectors?
I think we have three things to consider: NFTs for the digital fine art industry, NFTs for the physical fine art industry, and NFTs’ general impact on the Artists and Collectors relations which is a cross-topic. Regarding the first topic, I think that NFTs are an incredible enabler for digital art to become a collectively and globally recognized established branch of contemporary art.
Think about digital native generations, it is a safe bet to state they will collect mainly digital art, and we are setting a solid ground for digital art to be traded efficiently and transparently. NFTs and Crypto tokens are just a way to prove the authenticity/ownership of those pieces of art, as well as granting royalties to their creator, adding more liquidity to the market and making it more inclusive. On the second topic, I think NFTs could be used more frequently to track and ensure a more transparent physical art market and maybe recognize royalties on the physical side of the market as well.
The third theme and that's what I’m the most passionate about is the evolution of the relationship between the artist and its collectors. Royalties (marketplaces should always grant them) are switching the attention of artists from a short-term focus on primary sales to a long-term focus on secondary sales. In this ecosystem, artists can potentially earn 100x on royalties vs what they earned from primary sales. Thus keeping constant attention and a thriving community of collectors is key. This doesn’t necessarily mean answering the “Where is my utility?” question but means being open and frequently interacting with current or potential collectors of already existing pieces.
At Ninfa, we aim to become a single point of reference for artists, offering them a complete suite for creating NFTs, whether unique or editions, to manage and sell them via many different mechanisms, and also manage your collector community End to End. In this thriving ecosystem, collectors have the chance to purchase the next "Dali" or "Picasso" of this new revolution. While artists can benefit from lower entry barriers to the art market, increased and more accessible visibility, and ultimately living out of Art.
What role do you think technology plays in the creation and distribution of NFT art, and how does NINFA engage with the intersection of art and technology?
Technology is the key enabler. Without crypto, Blockchain, and Smart Contracts and their standards, this whole industry would never exist. So, everything starting from Bitcoin has been essential to developing the industry to the point we know.
At NINFA, we develop everything in-house, from the user interface to the smart contracts. I personally love to have this freedom to innovate depending on the creators' or collectors' requests. It is essential to grant a smooth development and evolution process to the platform. In just 10 months since launch, this enabled us to cover all gaps vs existing platforms since four years ago.
This development speed also opens up more occasions to connect with creators. We always put a lot of effort into listening to creators’ needs to develop and add features they might need on the platform. And this results in offering new innovative ways to create, sell, promote, or visualize Art, that can potentially change the Art industry forever. In the end, everything is Art: creating, collecting, but also building a platform.
And how do you see the NFT market evolving in the coming years?
Frequently, outsiders only focus on looking at prices or market valuations of whatever Web3-related assets (crypto, collectibles, artworks) to assess whether this market is going to succeed or not. What we actually do is focus on development and adoption metrics such as unique wallets, new creators and collectors joining, new coders approaching Web3, the number of daily transactions, etc. While prices and valuations (depending on cases) are lower than 2 years ago, these latter metrics are growing day by day, highlighting a rising global attention for web3 and NFTs. On a short-term horizon, I think that the next big thing for NFTs will be Virtual Reality.
With manufacturing costs for VR devices coming down, and higher diffusion of more practical VR headsets/visors/lenses, our life could be more easily enriched by digital assets. Imagine dining at a friend's house and seeing digital artworks on walls thanks to your enhanced digital contact lenses, or going around foreign cities and discovering plenty of geotagged artworks. Opportunities are endless. With digital asset economies (in or outside the metaverse) becoming a thing in the future (like in 2030), the provenance, traceability, and ownership of digital assets will be fundamental. NFTs represent the way we will ensure all of this in the new era of the internet. Estimates are seeing the whole industry amount to 1 -1.5 Trillion dollars in 7 years. Depending also on different industries' reluctance towards Web3, this could also be a pretty conservative estimate.
I would like now to expand a little on the more creative side of Ninfa, what’s Ninfa’s vision on curation, and what criteria do you use to select the artworks that you feature in your marketplace and physical gallery, and how do you think about curating exhibitions in a digital space?
We really care about curation. To us, it is a pivotal layer for the ecosystem, to offer newcomers and established collectors a pre-filter and to avoid high-quality creators to be diluted by low-effort collectibles or creations. Thus, on Ninfa, artists need to be approved before being able to join our marketplace and offer their pieces. We take serious time and effort into scouting and processing artists' applications, including the time to have 1 on 1 sessions with every artist joining the platform.
It then becomes essential for the platform to maintain a level of curation. A way to facilitate individuals' self-expressionism is by proposing to them a pre-curated set of items. But how can you ensure equality in curation? Curation risks become a mere filter applied by gatekeepers. Ninfa’s vision always included Co-Curators (Galleries, Curators, and Brands) that once onboard could invite artists they like. This approach facilitated worldwide an equal talent discovery and opened up different curatorial views. A choir of curatorial voices. This way we ensure more capillarity and equality in the selection and more internationality, expanding our network quickly but in a curated way and offering a unique service to art galleries and curators interested in joining this ecosystem. For what concerns exhibiting artworks at Ninfa Labs, again, the idea is to provide mutual benefits to artists (emerging or not) giving them additional visibility, or to collectors and newcomers by providing them a unique learning experience with every exhibition. There are no defining rules, what we are interested in is bringing meaningful education and discovery opportunities to our community.
Can you share any particularly exciting or innovative projects or exhibitions that NINFA has in the works?
Yes, we're probably going to change the game when Redacted. I’m joking, but we have some seriously differentiating features and projects we are working on for the platform. For the gallery in Milan, we have already planned 12 exhibitions and drops between April and July. For official dates, artists involved, and more information feel free to follow us on Instagram or Twitter. One of the most exciting exhibitions we've been working on will take place during Milan Design Week!
Just because it's you, Red-Eye, let me share some spoilers. We’re also working on a new summer hub, in one of the coolest Mediterranean islands, we are collaborating on the project with the most prominent design studios, architects, and curators, with the idea of revolutionizing interior designs by bringing digital art into every newly designed villa in the island (or should I say Isla?)
Lastly, what advice would you give to artists or collectors who are new to the world of NFTs and digital art, and looking to get involved?
Experiment. It is now almost 7 years since I have been in Crypto (from which all of this originates), and all the people that succeeded across the years are those that kept experimenting a lot independently of market conditions (the so-called bull or bear markets). Focus on meaningful connections in the ecosystem, build a community, promote collaboration, create, create, create (or collect, collect, collect), and most important of all, don't be afraid of failing many many times.