Piero Fornasetti (Italy, 1913–88)

The Italian artist and illustrator 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 dishes, 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.

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Set of Eight Mid-Century Piero Fornasetti Porcelain Coasters "Adam"/ Bareware
Set of Eight Mid-Century Piero Fornasetti Porcelai...
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Barware
Porcelain
These lovely and interactive set of eight Fornasetti porcelain Mid-Century barware coasters of the allegorical and biblical "Adam"are like a puzzle for you to play with. They are a comp...
Piero Fornasetti Ceramic Fish Appetizer Hors D'oeuvre Tray, Pesces, 1960s
Piero Fornasetti Ceramic Fish Appetizer Hors D'oeu...
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Barware
Ceramic
Rare Piero Fornasetti ceramic fish appetizer hors d'oeuvre tray, Pesces, Early 1960s. The rare and beautiful hors d'oeuvre dishes and tray consists of an image of a fish displayed ...
Vintage Mid-Century Italian Fornasetti Metal Serving/ Bar Tray
Vintage Mid-Century Italian Fornasetti Metal Servi...
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1950s Italian Mid-Century Modern Barware
Metal, Paint
This great and rare serigraphed mid century metal serving or bar tray is Mid-Century and the work of Piero Fornasetti. This is great for your bar and or serving.  
Early Piero Fornasetti Ice Bucket, Sealife Decor, circa 1960s
Early Piero Fornasetti Ice Bucket, Sealife Decor, ...
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1960s Italian Barware
Metal, Brass
An early ice bucket by Piero Fornasetti. Lithographically printed and hand colored, Metal and brass. Italy, circa 1960.
Piero Fornasetti Ceramic Snack Bowls, circa 1960
Piero Fornasetti Ceramic Snack Bowls, circa 1960
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Barware
Ceramic
Piero Fornasetti Snack Bowls, circa 1960. Each small cup is decorated in black and white with images and letters to form the contents and a wide gilt band to the foot and inner rim...
 Six Italian Piero Fornasetti Gilded Porcelain Love Heart Coasters/Barware
Six Italian Piero Fornasetti Gilded Porcelain Lov...
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1950s Italian Classical Roman Barware
Gold, Porcelain
These delightful and romantic verbages are depicted within the heart shape of these hallmarked Piero Fornasetti gilded porcelain love coasters/ small plates/barware. They are lithograph...
Vintage Piero Fornasetti Tray
Vintage Piero Fornasetti Tray
Piero Fornasetti
20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Barware
Early tray by Italian designer Piero Fornasetti - Fornasetti is perfection in any era... for display or serving, serve up a conversation with an artful display! Great for any holiday...
Eight 1950s Piero Fornasetti Musicalia Canapes or ...
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1950s Italian Neoclassical Barware
Ceramic
Elegant and pure Fornasetti, these eight gilt, black and white dishes featuring neoclassical visions of musical instruments were an exclusive by Fornasetti for Bonwit Teller. To be used...
Piero Fornasetti Coaster Set, Americana, 1960s
Piero Fornasetti Coaster Set, Americana, 1960s
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Barware
Ceramic
Piero Fornasetti coaster set, Americana, 1960s. The set of eight coasters, lithographed, gilded and glazed, depicts Washington, John Adams, General Lincoln, Franklin, General Wayn...
Piero Fornasetti Coaster Set, Dinner at Eight or Pranzo Alle Otto
Piero Fornasetti Coaster Set, Dinner at Eight or P...
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Barware
Ceramic
Piero Fornasetti coaster set, Dinner at eight or Pranzo Alle Otto, 1960s. A full set of eight lithographed and glazed ceramic coasters featuring various Italian culinary dishes. ...
Piero Fornasetti Early Metal Tiger Tray, Early 1950s
Piero Fornasetti Early Metal Tiger Tray, Early 195...
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1950s Italian Mid-Century Modern Barware
Metal
Piero Fornasetti early metal tiger tray, early 1950s The large rectangular Fornasetti tray in black is printed with a large tiger. This is an remarkable example of Piero Fornasetti'...
Piero Fornasetti Boxed Set of Sezione Di Frutta 'Cut Fruit' Coasters, 1960s
Piero Fornasetti Boxed Set of Sezione Di Frutta 'C...
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Barware
Ceramic
Piero Fornasetti boxed set of Sezione Di Frutta (Cut Fruit) Coasters, 1960s. This is a fantastic series with split views of different fruits depicted in rich color and detail with ...
Piero Fornasetti Set of Eight Porcelain Love Coasters, 1960s
Piero Fornasetti Set of Eight Porcelain Love Coast...
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Barware
Porcelain
Piero Fornasetti love coasters, 1960s. Each coaster has a central white heart on a gold ground. Within each heart is a saying about love framed by a different heart shaped border. ...
Set of 8 Italian Fornasetti Gilded Porcelain Coasters Entitled "Mitologia"/ SALE
Set of 8 Italian Fornasetti Gilded Porcelain Coast...
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1950s Italian Barware
Porcelain
These classic Greek mythological scenes of Fornasetti's vintage gilded porcelain coasters/small plates are classical Italian. They are all hallmarked on the back of the coaster/plate an...
Set of Eight Italian Fornasetti Gilded Porcelain Roman Chariot Coasters
Set of Eight Italian Fornasetti Gilded Porcelain R...
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1950s Italian Classical Roman Barware
Gold, Porcelain
Rich in subject matter and rich in gold porcelain are these lovely Fornasetti complete set of eight Roman Chariot coasters. They have a romantic quality to them. The top is rich in gild...
Set of Seven Piero Fornasetti Mitologia Gilded Porcelain Coasters, Italy, 1950s
Set of Seven Piero Fornasetti Mitologia Gilded Por...
Piero Fornasetti
Mid-20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Barware
Porcelain
A set of seven beautiful "Mitologia" small plates or coasters with gold-painted Greek mythological illustrations by Piero Fornasetti, Italy, 1950s. In very good condition with marginal ...
Piero Fornasetti Orchestra Coasters in a complete Set of eight.,
Piero Fornasetti Orchestra Coasters in a complete ...
Piero Fornasetti
Vintage 1960s Italian Mid-Century Modern Barware
The set of Fornasetti coasters are numbered from one to eight, each depicts a different assortment of orchestral instruments. Mark: Hand with brush and a stringed instrument with the...
Set of Piero Fornasetti Velieri Tallship Porcelain Coasters with Original Box
Set of Piero Fornasetti Velieri Tallship Porcelain...
Piero Fornasetti
Mid-20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Barware
Porcelain
The set of eight Piero Fornasetti porcelain coasters each depict a different Spanish Galleon. The coasters come with their original blue box with a compass printed on the cover.