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Piero Fornasetti Furniture

Italian, 1913-1988

The Italian artist and designer Piero Fornasetti was one of the wittiest and most imaginative 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 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 decorative objects to dinner plates, table lamps and umbrella stands. His work is archly clever, often Surrealist 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 Fornasetti's 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 the artist's collaborator and patron. Beginning in the early 1950s, they created a striking 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.

Find vintage Piero Fornasetti dinner plates, chairs, tables and other furniture on 1stDibs.

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Creator: Piero Fornasetti
Dealer: Decorum
Piero Fornasetti Book End
By Piero Fornasetti
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This is a charming one half of a rare Fornastti bookend. It is nonetheless a wonderful collectible and highly decorative accent piece for a desk, or bookshelf display. Who knows may...
Category

1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Piero Fornasetti Furniture

Materials

Metal

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Piero Fornasetti furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Piero 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 Piero Fornasetti furniture, although gray editions of this piece are particularly popular. We have 391 vintage editions of these items in-stock, while there is 1 modern edition to choose from as well. Many of the original furniture by Piero 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 Archimede Seguso, Flavio Poli, and Richard Ginori. Prices for Piero Fornasetti furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $120 and can go as high as $54,990, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $1,262.
Questions About Piero Fornasetti Furniture
  • 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
    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 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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