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Fornasetti Chairs

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.

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Creator: Fornasetti
'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 Chairs

Materials

Lacquer

20th Century Piero Fornasetti Set of 4 Chairs in Black Lacquered Wood '90s
By Fornasetti
Located in Turin, Turin
Set of 4 chairs (4 pieces in total) designed by Atelier Fornasetti in '50s and produced in '90s. The chairs have the structure entirely in lacquered wood, the 4 feet are linked to th...
Category

1990s Italian Mid-Century Modern Fornasetti Chairs

Materials

Metal

20th Century Italian "Sole" Chair by Fornasetti Studios
By Fornasetti
Located in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent
A very rare chair by Fornasetti Studios made in Italy towards the latter end of the 20th century. These chairs are handcrafted using the original artisan techniques. Condition In...
Category

20th Century Italian Fornasetti Chairs

Materials

Wood, Lacquer

'Lux Gstaadt' Chair by Fornasetti, Contemporary
By Fornasetti
Located in London, GB
Charming chair with the back rest decorated both sides with Fornasetti's muse, Lina Cavalieri, sporting a purple knitted ski hat with a yellow pom-pom. Hand-coloured transfer printe...
Category

2010s Italian Fornasetti Chairs

Materials

Lacquer

Fornasetti Chair "Musicale"
By Fornasetti
Located in Kawaguchi city, Saitama
A “Musicale” chair by Atelier Fornasetti. Lithographically printed. Hand colored wood, lacquer, metal tubular legs.
Category

20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Fornasetti Chairs

Materials

Metal

Fornasetti Chair Capitello Corinzio
By Fornasetti
Located in Kawaguchi city, Saitama
This chair has a lithographically applied graphic which is hand-finished and covered with a smooth lacquer.
Category

20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Fornasetti Chairs

Materials

Wood

Fornasetti Chair "Musicale"
By Fornasetti
Located in Kawaguchi city, Saitama
A “Musicale” chair by Atelier Fornasetti. Lithographically printed. Hand colored wood, lacquer, metal tubular legs.  
Category

20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Fornasetti Chairs

Materials

Metal

Piero Fornasetti “Mongolfiera” Chair
By Fornasetti
Located in Kawaguchi city, Saitama
“Mongolfiera” chair by Piero Fornasetti.
Category

20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Fornasetti Chairs

Materials

Wood

Capitello Chair by Fornasetti, Italy, 1988
By Fornasetti
Located in Brussels, BE
Capitello Jonico Fornasetti chair. Black lacquered metal frame and legs labeled and signed Fornasetti, 1988.
Category

1980s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Fornasetti Chairs

Materials

Metal

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Fornasetti chairs for sale on 1stDibs

1stDibs Fornasetti chairs are available for sale. These distinctive objects are often made of wood and designed with extraordinary care. There are many options in our collection of Fornasetti chairs to choose from, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. In stock, we have 6 vintage editions of these items, while there are 9 modern editions to choose from as well. Many of the original chairs by Fornasetti were created in Italy during the 21st century in the modern style. If you are looking for additional options, many customers also consider chairs by Rodolfo Dordoni, Fasem International and Giorgetti S.p.A. Fornasetti chair prices can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. The price for these items starts at $4,375 and tops out at $11,500, while pieces like these can sell for $5,666 on average..
Questions About Fornasetti Chairs
  • 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 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 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
    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 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
    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.
  • 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.

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