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Fornasetti

The Italian artist, illustrator and furniture maker Piero Fornasetti was one of the wittiest and most imaginative design talents of the 20th century. He crafted an inimitable decorative style from a personal vocabulary of images that included birds, butterflies, hot-air balloons, architecture and — most frequently, and in some 500 variations — an enigmatic woman’s face based on that of the 19th-century opera singer Lina Cavalieri. Fornasetti used transfer prints of these images, rendered in the style of engravings, to decorate an endless variety of furnishings and housewares that ranged from chairs, tables and desks to dinner plates, lamps and umbrella stands. His work is archly clever, often surreal and always fun.

Fornasetti was born in Milan, the son of an accountant, and he lived his entire life in the city. He showed artistic talent as a child and enrolled at Milan’s Brera Academy of Fine Art in 1930, but was expelled after two years for consistently failing to follow his professors’ orders. A group of his hand-painted silk scarves, displayed in the 1933 Triennale di Milano, caught the eye of the architect and designer Gio Ponti, who, in the 1940s, became Fornasetti’s collaborator and patron. Beginning in the early 1950s, they created a striking a series of desks, bureaus and secretaries that pair Ponti’s signature angular forms with Fornasetti’s decorative motifs — lighthearted arrangements of flowers and birds on some pieces, austere architectural imagery on others. The two worked together on numerous commissions for interiors, though their greatest project has been lost: the first-class lounges and restaurants of the luxury ocean liner Andrea Doria, which sank in 1956.

Fornasetti furnishings occupy an unusual and compelling niche in the decorative arts: they are odd yet pack a serious punch. They act, essentially, as functional sculpture. A large Fornasetti piece such as a cabinet or a desk can change the character of an entire room; his smaller works have the aesthetic power of a vase of flowers, providing a bright and alluring decorative note. The chimerical, fish-nor-fowl nature of Fornasetti’s work may be its greatest strength. It stands on its own. Bringing the Fornasetti look into the future is Barnaba Fornasetti, who took the reins of the company after his father's death.

Average Sold Price
$1,570
Styles
Materials
Related Creators
Fornasetti Don Giovanni Tamburo Table, Beechwood, Handmade in Italy 21st Century
By Fornasetti
Located in New York, NY
The Fornasetti Tamburo is a wooden storage piece of furniture. its versatile shape turns it into a table. the wood is silkscreened and laquered by hand following the Atelier's tradit...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Fornasetti

Materials

Wood, Beech

Mid-Century Modern Fornasetti Plate, Italy
By Fornasetti
Located in Brussels, BE
Mid-Century Modern Fornasetti Plate, Italy
Category

1950s Vintage Fornasetti

Materials

Ceramic

Mid-Century Modern Fornasetti Plate, Italy
Mid-Century Modern Fornasetti Plate, Italy
H 0.79 in W 9.45 in D 9.45 in
Fornasetti Rectangular Tray Coromandel Silver Leaf on Carmine Red
By Fornasetti
Located in MILANO, IT
Like all Fornasetti accessories, the tray is handcrafted using original artisan techniques. This tray is silk-screened by hand, painted by hand and covered with a smooth lacquer. Me...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Fornasetti

Materials

Wood

'Sole' (Sun) Chair by Fornasetti
By Fornasetti
Located in London, GB
Contemporary production of Piero Fornasetti's design from the Fornasetti Studio. Transfer printed and hand-colored decoration on wood, in tones of cheerful yellow mottled with ochre,...
Category

2010s Italian Fornasetti

Materials

Lacquer

'Sole' (Sun) Chair by Fornasetti
'Sole' (Sun) Chair by Fornasetti
H 35.44 in W 15.75 in D 15.75 in
Fornasetti Silk Cushion Peccato Originale Original Sin
By Fornasetti
Located in MILANO, IT
The Fornasetti cushions will add to each room an unexpected detail thanks to the most iconic Italian atelier designs. The decoration features a snake holding the forbidden fruit in its jaws, and surrounded by hand painted leaves. It is inspired by the biblical original sin...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Fornasetti

Materials

Silk

Fornasetti Silk Cushion Mano Hand
By Fornasetti
Located in MILANO, IT
The Fornasetti cushions will add to each room an unexpected detail thanks to the most iconic Italian atelier designs. The decoration plays with the anatomic theme in a surreal an...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Fornasetti

Materials

Silk

Fornasetti Silk Cushion Mano Hand
Fornasetti Silk Cushion Mano Hand
H 9.85 in W 19.69 in D 1.97 in
Set of 6 Decorative Plates "Specialità Torinesi" by P. Fornasetti for Fiat
By Piero Fornasetti, Fornasetti
Located in Varese, Lombardia
Rare set of six decorated and gilded ceramic plates designed by Piero Fornasetti. This collection was specially created by the Fornasetti Atelier...
Category

1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Fornasetti

Materials

Gold Plate

Fornasetti Frame with Convex Mirror Farfalle Butterflies Color on White
By Fornasetti
Located in MILANO, IT
Like all Fornasetti accessories, the mirrors turn an everyday action into an aesthetic experience. Measures: Ø28 cm. This mirror frame is handcrafted using original artisan techni...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Fornasetti

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Glass, Wood

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Fornasetti furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Fornasetti furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of ceramic and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Fornasetti furniture, although gray editions of this piece are particularly popular. We have 143 vintage editions of these items in-stock, while there is 53 modern edition to choose from as well. Many of the original furniture by Fornasetti were created in the mid-century modern style in europe during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Richard Ginori, Alfredo Barbini, and La Murrina. Prices for Fornasetti furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $274 and can go as high as $32,216, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $1,614.
Questions About Fornasetti
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Fornasetti is an art design company that produces furniture and home accessories decorated by hand. Piero Fornasetti established the company in Milan, Italy, during the 1950s as his atelier. As of December 2021, his son, Barnaba Fornasetti, heads the company. You'll find a selection of Fornasetti on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    You can buy Fornasetti directly from the brand's online store. In addition, numerous brick-and-mortar retailers around the world carry Fornasetti pieces. You can also shop for the brand's furniture and home décor on multiple online platforms. You'll find a collection of Fornasetti on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Piero Fornasetti was an Italian artist and designer born in Milan, Italy, in 1913. In 1950, he founded an atelier in the city, creating furniture and home decorations. Fornasetti died on October 9, 1988. His company, Fornasetti, continues to produce hand-decorated decor under the guidance of his son Barnaba Fornasetti. Find a collection of Fornasetti on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 1, 2024
    The style of Fornasetti is mid-century modern. The Italian artist and designer crafted an inimitable decorative style from a personal library of images rendered in transfer print engravings, including birds, butterflies, hot-air balloons, architecture and an enigmatic woman's face, to decorate an endless variety of furnishings and housewares that range from chairs, tables and decorative objects to dinner plates, table lamps and umbrella stands. On 1stDibs, shop an assortment of Piero Fornasetti art, furniture and decorative objects.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Yes, each and every Fornasetti design is hand made and hand painted. The colors are expertly applied by painters, ensuring no two items are alike. You’ll find a variety of Fornasetti designs from some of the world’s top sellers on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    To hang Fornasetti plates, thread a length of string through the two small holes found on the tops of their backs. Tie the string in a secure knot and then hang from a nail, screw or hook. Avoid using plate hanger hardware, as it could crack or damage the plates. You'll find a collection of Fornasetti plates on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Fornasetti plates are hand-made in Italy. They continue a tradition of excellent craftsmanship that goes back to founder Piero Fornasetti, who established the atelier during the 1950s. Shop antique and modern Fornasetti plates from some of the world’s top sellers on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 27, 2024
    The style of art by Fornasetti varied. His use of whimsical motifs has often led his artwork to be associated with Surrealism, while his use of repetitive imagery, like in his many prints featuring opera singer Lina Cavalieri, skewed toward Pop art. As a designer, his works reflected mid-century modern sensibilities with a playful twist. Explore a collection of Piero Fornasetti art and decorative objects on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    To burn a Fornasetti candle, first trim the wick to remove any soot. Then, light the candle and allow it to burn for up to three hours. Use a snuffer to extinguish the candle, as blowing out the flame can disturb the wax. Find a collection of Fornasetti on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    How you display Fornasetti plates is largely a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer to rest them flat on a low table or shelf, while others position them upright on plate stands. You can also thread string or twine through the two holes found on the back of every piece and display it as wall art. Find a collection of Fornasetti plates on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Opera singer Natalina ‘Lina’ Cavalieri is the face that inspired Piero Fornasetti throughout his artistic career, from his plates to wallpaper and more. Lina Cavalieri was known as the most beautiful woman in the world during her lifetime from 1874-1944. It was eight years after Cavalieri’s death that Fornasetti came across her image in a magazine and was thereby inspired to replicate it repetitively. On 1stDibs, find a collection of authentic Fornasetti plates from some of the world’s top sellers.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    No, every Fornasetti porcelain figurine is handmade. In fact, the brand produces all of their home decorative items by hand at their workshop in Milan, Italy. If you see indications that a figurine came from a factory, it is likely not an authentic Fornasetti. Shop a collection of expertly vetted Fornasetti on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Whether or not Piero Fornasetti images are in the public domain depends on the image. The artist produced more than 11,000 works during his lifetime. Only some no longer carry a copyright and are in the public domain. Shop a range of Fornasetti on 1stDibs.

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