Piero Fornasetti

The Artwork of Piero Fornasetti

Born in Milan, Italy in November of 1913, Piero Fornasetti was an eclectic artist who was an important figure in the Italian design scene. A prolific creator of designs, he was involved in many aesthetic disciplines including painting, drawing, graphic design, and product design. In the course of his career, Fornasetti created over ten thousand works and was responsible for one of the largest outputs of diverse objects and furniture of the twentieth-century. 

The first child of a wealthy family, Fornasetti was already at the age of ten drawing and displaying an innate inclination towards art. In 1932, he enrolled at the Academia di Brera, Milan’s public academy of fine arts; however, two years later he was expelled for insubordination. Although he applied to Milan’s Superior School of Arts Applied to Industry, Fornasetti was unable to adhere to the schools dogma due to his rebellious nature. 

Beginning in the early 1930s, Piero Fornasetti began a individual and comprehensive study of  engraving and printing techniques. With this knowledge and his developed technical skill, he began to print artist books and lithographs for many of the great artists of the time, including composer and playwright Alberto Savinio, painter Fabrizio Clerici, and painter and writer Giorgio de Chirico. The Fornasetti Art Printshop became the source of quality printing for many artists of his generation. Fornasetti, through his constant experimentation, later developed a printing method for graphic effects on silk; this innovation brought him  to the attention of designer and publisher Gio Ponti, with whom Fornasetti would develop a close creative partnership. 

From the early 1940s and onward, Fornasetti produced a vast series of limited edition graphic works, which included calendars, holiday gifts, and images for advertising, theater, posters, and publications. He produced sketches and drawings for the Esino Lario School of Tapestry, whose fine silk tapestries were produced by local village girls. In 1940 Fornasetti began to publish his own work in the architectural design magazine Domus, and for two years designed a series of almanacs for Gio Ponti. Taking refuge in Switzerland in 1943 during the war, he continued his graphic work, expanding into watercolors, oil portraits, drawings in ink, and the creation of theatrical sets for Albert Camus’s 1938 “Caligula”.

Upon his return to Milan, Piero Fornasetti and Gio Ponti began a close creative partnership which centered on architectural concepts in design and decoration. With the beginning of the 1950s, they put their theories into practice developing new simple and functional designs for the interiors of homes, apartments, cinemas and even ship cabins. Their initial project, the “Architettura” trumeau, a furniture design concept seen in an image above, was exhibited at the 1951 Triennale IX in Milan. This piece of furniture became an icon of Italian design in the interwar years of economic growth. 

Fornasetti is best known for his designs using fanciful motifs such as the moon, sun, playing cards, animals, and other surrealist imagery; most of which were executed in black and white. In 1952, he began work on his iconic and best known series, “Tema a Variazioni (Theme and Variations)”, a facial portrait of opera singer Lina Cavalieri, who was renowned at the time as a true archetype of a classical beauty. This image continues to appear today on a series of everyday objects from porcelain and fabrics to furniture and wall coverings. This portrait series entered into the world of theater as set designs in  Fornasetti’s production of Mozart’s two-act opera, “Don Giovanni”. These designs were used in the December 2016 performances at Milan’s Teatro dell’ Arte and in the  January 2017 performances at Florence’s Teatro della Pergola.

In 1970, Piero Fornasetti, along with a group of friends, operated the Galleria dei Bibliofili, where he exhibited his own work and the work of other contemporary artists. His paintings at this time contained both layered abstractions, with interacting colors done in various techniques, and figurative works done in a new pictorial style, where bodies and faces were composed of fruits and bottles. After the death of Gio Ponti in 1979 and the opening of London’s “Themes and Variations” design gallery in 1980, Fornasetti’s work and his idealogical concepts of form/function gained new interest both at home and abroad. 

Piero Fornasetti died in October of 1988 during a minor operation in hospital. In 2013, Silvana Annicchiarico, the director of the Triennale Design Museum, dedicated a first retrospective of Fornasetti’s work at the museum; this exhibition later went on tour to Paris’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs and Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza. A 1987 collaboration between Fornasetti and fashion writer and publisher Patrick Mauriés, which became a monograph entitled “Fornasetti: Designer of Dreams”, was published posthumously in 2015 with an introduction by Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass. Piero Fornasetti’s work can be seen in the collections of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Note” An example of the range of Piero Fornasetti’s oeuvre can be found at the online Fornasetti website located at: https://www.fornasetti.com/bd/en/

Fabio Novembre

Fabio Novembre, The S.O.S. Chair, 2003, Fiberglass, Polyurethane

Fabio Novembre was born in Milan in 1966. An architect since 1992, he became famous through a large series of design projects for restaurants, nightclubs and shops in Italy and abroad, as well as through his unique pieces of Italian furniture designed for Cappellini, Driade and Flaminia.

Novembre proposes works that highlight curvaceous forms and elegant and innovative lines. He often emphasizes sex within his creations. He stands on the boarders of provocation and poetry, contemporary art and design with his pieces.

The S.O.S. line is a joinable system of armchairs and chaise longue realized in a cubic form with a structure in lacquered matt black fiberglass. The sitting area is covered with a bielastic stitch spread in polyurethane and PVC, in a golden color.

Edgeworks Design, Texas

Touch Activated Lighting by Edgeworks Design in Texas

“Drawing inspiration from the very heart of industry, Edgeworks Design strives to embody the strength and power of humanity’s thirst for progress. Using salvaged materials from heavy machinery, I craft uniquely striking products, incorporating the very tools that propelled our country through the industrial age. At Edgeworks Design I believe in up-scaling the old and abandoned, retaking the throne of American ingenuity, and breathing new life into the fragments of a throw-away culture otherwise forgotten.” – Philip

This company from Texas does handcrafted lighting and wood/metal furniture for the home. Their site is: http://www.edgeworksdesign.com

Descending on Flowers

Descending on Flowers

“Yet the story of Orpheus, it occurs to me, is not just about the desire of the living to resuscitate the dead but about the ways in which the dead drag us along into their shadowy realm because we cannot let them go. So we follow them into the Underworld, descending, descending, until one day we turn and make our way back.”
― Meghan O’Rourke

Frank Buchwald

Frank Buchwald, Machine Light Number Three

Frank Buchwald is a interior designer and manufacturer of furniture, lights, and objects. He studied design at the University of the Arts in Berlin. He is also a painter and freelance illustrator.

Machine light number 03 is made of burnished steel and burnished brass with a  tube 60 watt lamp bulb. It is 24 inches long and 11 inches high.

Marco Stefanelli

Lighting by Marco Stefanelli

Italian designer Marco Stefanelli‘s handsome collection of Brecce lamps combine high-tech LED lights and scraps of wood to make a beautiful way to accent a space. The pieces are made from salvaged wood scraps sourced from a lumber mill, a local river, and even the firewood pile. The magic comes with the addition of low-energy LEDs embedded behind a layer of resin.

Joseph Walsh

Furniture Designed by Joseph Walsh

Joseph Walsh (born in 1979) founded his studio and workshop in 1999 in Co. Cork, Ireland. He is a self-taught designer maker, realising one of a kind and limited edition pieces. Walsh’s creative approach reflects his appreciation of nature and also his desire to engage the user with visual and tactile forms.

The understanding and sympathetic use of the material; the intimate relationship between the process of finding forms and creating structures; the continuity and resolve from the concept to the making process, define Walsh’s studio and work today. He seeks inspiration in nature, in the patterns of growth and evolution – this has influenced his approach to design and process allowing the pieces to evolve and reveal themselves. Walsh’s workshop challenges and disrupts existing practice in achieving the ambitious pieces realised.