Fornasetti - Conversation with Philippe Starck
By Brigitte Fitoussi

September 04, 2006 /
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One of the most prolific decorative artists of the twentieth century.
Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988) is often described as a visionary. A Milan artist, Fornasetti was at the same time a painter, sculptor, designer, craftsman, and an engraver of art books. In his lifetime, he created more than 11,000 objects, decorative schemes, and items of furniture in the course of his unfailingly prolific career, including a large number of unique pieces.

Drawings on a powerful mix of Italian cultural tradition and surrealist invention, his ideas were expressed on every conceivable support, from glasses and plates to umbrellas, lamps, furniture, and screens. The result is a very unusual and highly poetic body of work.

Today his son, Barnaba Fornasetti, is keeping the family tradition alive by reviving Piero's most popular pieces and creating new ones.

2plates.jpgPhoto © Roberto Barbieri
Piero Fornasetti with his "Tema e Varoazioni" (Theme and Variation) collection of plates, 1961.

"Jerusalem" wallpaper designed by Piera Fornasetti for his home, 1950.

Photo © Marco Pratali
Chair with back in the form of a Corinthian capital, 1950s.

"Palladiana" chest of drawers, 1953.

The main versions of the cabinet or bureau, from the first version inspired by Gio Ponti to Barnaba Fornasetti's "Fine Millennio" (End of Millennium) model and the black "Architettura" version of 2004.

Neckties by Barnaba Fornasetti 1993-2003
Lamp bases by Piero Fornasetti, 1950s and 60s

"Architettura" CD-holder, reinterpretation by Barnaba Fornasetti,1977.
"Farfalle" (Butterfly) obelisk lamp, 1950s.

"Raggiera" (Rays) chairs1950s, reissued in color in 2001. Sketches and ideas by Piero Fornasetti, 1950-60.
This illustrated Mémoire features a discussion about the great Italian master between Barnaba Fornasetti and a lifelong admirer of Piero's work, Philippe Starck, who has used several Fornasetti chairs in the hotels he has designed.

"Everybody has tried to understand Fornasetti's secret, but always in terms of technique, the way he applied his drawings onto furniture or any other kind of surface. My father was a very talented craftsman, so this kind of question never interested him. He always used to reply that "Fornasetti's secret is the imagination."

"It is a mixture of imagination, culture and sensibility. Plus an incredible elegance, stemming from this tremendous freedom."

"Not forgetting the great rigor of the forms, inspired by classicism and ancient objects. My father was particularly attentive to precision, to the positioning of his drawings."

"Maybe, if we had to define the secret recipe, we would say: poetry, discipline, and freedom."

"And also, always that touch of irony."

10fornasetti.jpg"Eros," prototype of the Philippe Starck chair for Kartell with an intervention by Fornasetti, 2005.

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Publisher: Assouline

ISBN: 2843236797


Last updated: December 19, 2013

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