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Fornasetti: a timeless design icon

Creative, Window display design and production management, Diseño de escaparates y gestión de la producción www.joseluisledesma.com

If there is one name that is associated with timeless design and iconic craftsmanship, it is that of Piero Fornasetti. Born in Milan in 1913, Fornasetti is known for his talent in interior design and the creation of unique decorative objects.

Although Fornasetti is known for his work in interior design and the creation of decorative objects, he began his career in painting. After studying at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, Fornasetti began working as an illustrator for magazines and newspapers. It was during this time that he began to develop his unique style, characterized by a combination of surrealist and classical elements.

Fornasetti also began working in interior design during this time, creating furniture and decorative objects for friends and clients. It was his work in interior design that eventually led him to create his iconic porcelain plate design, which became one of his most famous creations.

He was a painter, sculptor, illustrator, printmaker, designer, ceramist, craftsman, interior decorator, art book publisher and even collector. The fact that he ventured into so many artistic fields made him a born and amusing creator of art. He not only focused on making commissioned decorative pieces, but also enjoyed experimenting with new techniques and materials.

His work has marked a milestone in the history of design, becoming an icon, repeated by furniture designers and fashion houses in their collections under the Fornasetti licence.

Today, his son Barnaba Fornasetti continues to design in his name, creating each piece entirely by hand. Each piece is unique and unrepeatable. To recognize the originals, it is only necessary to look for the serial number and year of production.

Fornasetti’s unique style and inspirations

Fornasetti’s design style is unique and easily recognizable. It is characterized by a combination of classical and surrealistic elements, as well as the use of repetitive patterns and graphic designs. Fornasetti’s designs often feature motifs such as the sun, moon and stars, as well as human and animal figures. He was also inspired by classical architecture and Greek and Roman mythology. Some of his most famous collaborators include the architect Gio Ponti and the surrealist artist Salvador Dalí. Of particular note is his most recent collaboration (2021) with the luxury brand Louis Vuitton.

A collaboration initiated by Nicolas Ghesquière, artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s women’s collections, in which the Maison explores the creative world of the Italian atelier. The collection showcases Fornasetti’s iconic handmade drawings that have captivated art and design lovers since the atelier’s founding in 1940.

These designs were selected by Nicolas Ghesquière in conjunction with Barnaba Fornasetti, Piero’s son and artistic director of the Fornasetti atelier.

Lasting appeal

Fornasetti’s work remains very popular today. This is largely due to his ability to create timeless designs and decorative objects that are both functional and aesthetically appealing. In addition, his use of repetitive patterns and graphic designs means that his creations are easily recognizable and can be used in a variety of design contexts.

His strong point has always been imagination: “It’s fundamental. I try to free my inspiration from the everyday. I don’t paint from reality, but from my memories. I don’t copy.

His work in interior design is one of his most enduring legacies. His designs for wallpaper, decorative objects and furniture can be found in homes and commercial spaces around the world.

Some of his most iconic designs are undoubtedly his porcelain plates, which feature a variety of motifs and graphic designs. One of his most famous designs features the face of Italian actress and singer Lina Cavalieri.

Fornasetti was leafing through a magazine when he suddenly discovered Lina’s face. He was so fascinated that he described her as “[…] the true archetype: the quintessence of an image of classical beauty, like a Greek statue, enigmatic like the Mona Lisa”.

A face with enigmatic features defined by Gabriele D’Annunzio, the most emblematic exponent of Italian decadentism, as “the highest testimony of Venus on Earth”, a timeless physiognomy destined to become an icon.

Fornasetti, without even knowing her, turned Lina Cavalieri into an eternal female icon, transforming and reworking her face, which appears masked, torn, tattooed, reflected in a mirror, cut, inserted into geometric figures, smiling, crying, mischievous, furious in the artist’s works. Perhaps Fornasetti’s Lina can be considered, to all intents and purposes, a twentieth-century Mona Lisa, a precursor of Warhol’s Marilyn.

Fornasetti’s influence on contemporary design

The design is still evident today. His unique style and his ability to create timeless and functional designs have inspired many contemporary designers. In addition, his focus on combining classical and surreal elements has influenced interior design and decorative objects.

A Fornasetti drawing has the power to change the vibe of a place, not because it is beautiful, but because it takes you to a different dimension, that of dreams. Philippe Starck

Throughout his career, Piero Fornasetti left a lasting impact on the world of design. His unique style and his ability to create timeless and functional designs have inspired many contemporary designers.

Sources: revistaad.es; es.louisvuitton.com; nuvomagazine.com; elledecor.com; fornasetti.com; 

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