Skip to content

“What inspired me to create more than 500 variations on the face of a woman?”

"I don't know, I began to make them and never stopped" - Piero Fornasetti.

At WORLD we often talk about 'reinventing the familiar', taking an idea or an experiment and re-working or re-modelling.  We didn't invent the shirt, but we endeavour to design a variation on the theme each season, in a way that is exciting but also understandable.  Fornasetti is an artist WORLD has long felt a connection with, and an inspiration on behalf of. 

Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988) was a Milanese painter, sculptor, interior decorator, engraver of books and a creator of more than 13,000 products. In terms of variety of decoration, Fornasetti’s production of objects and furniture is one of the largest of the 20th century.  Many featuring the face of a woman, operatic soprano Lina Cavalieri, as a motif, Fornasetti found her face in a 19th-century magazine. The “Tema e Variazioni” (theme and variation) plate series (Many stocked at WORLD Britomart) based on Cavalieri's face numbered more than 350.  Fornasetti collected books, magazines and documents on the applied arts, and used images he found (often cutting them out of the books they came from) as points of aesthetic reference, sources of inspiration and the materials for his work.

Fornasetti is celebrated as being among the most original creative talents of the twentieth century. During his career he created a visual vocabulary that is instantly recognisable and unceasingly engaging. Fornasetti designed a magical world, saturated in image and colour and filled with whimsy and wit. This 'world' has long been a source of inspiration and excitement for our design process, not only specifically the extraordinary output of creative endeavours, but also the man himself and his house.

The Fonrasetti family home in Città Studi area of Milan and was built by Piero’s parents in the 19th century and became a canvas for Piero’s fervent creativity and over the course of the many years he lived there.  The rooms of the Milanese villa became decorated with his art. There is no better, certainly no richer, example of the Fornasetti aesthetic.  The home became a testbed for Fornasetti’s work with colour and motif: unique designs, original furniture, found objects and inspirations fill the rooms. Piero’s home became a living archive of his style – the result is an intoxicating, magical experience.  One can find synergies of thought between a WORLD retail environment and the Fornmasetti house - the endeavour of wanting to use our surroundings as a 'tesbed' for our ideas and experiments, as well as the collision and collusion of visual prompts is what we hope makes our interiors an experience which draws the eye around the store and opens the mind.  Much in the way the collection of Fornasetti's work and found objects work with and against one another to intoxicate you.    

Fornasetti’s son, Barnaba, is perpetuating the Fornasetti tradition by continuing to produce, and revive, Fornasetti designs. At the helm of the company and its creative heart, Barnaba is the custodian of his father’s legacy.  An abundance of important motifs have emerged from the Fornasetti archive thanks to Barnaba’s skillful tenacity and dedication. The Fornasetti Atelier is currently managed by Barnaba, who has successfully maintained in-house production, revived as well as reinterpreted his father’s designs. Barnaba also works in collaboration to extend the extraordinary visual language of Fornasetti so that it is as active and strong as ever.

One such collaboration held at WORLD beauty is the collection of Fornasetti Profumi per La Casa, which celebrates the Fornasetti ceramic heritage in combination with both well-known and less familiar decorative images. Together they make up a desirable group of iconic objects and decorative pieces, such as candles, room sprays and scent spheres, that are at once collectable and covetous.  One of the most exciting elements of this collaboration is the development if signature fragrances, what, if anything, could embody the essence of Fornasetti? Barnaba called upon the artistry of world-renowned master-perfumer Olivier Polge, creator of classic new fragrances such as Flower Bomb by Victor & Rolf, Dior Homme, Balenciaga Paris and many others.  The resulting scent ‘Otto’ is a sophisticated and unique scent that transcends time, season, gender and borders. Olivier made use of ingredients that are of personal significance to Barnaba – Mediterranean herbs that were found in and around the family home, woods often utilised in interiors designs or pieces of furniture created by Fornasetti. Other more ethereal ingredients – such as incense – conjure a latent spirituality or sense of dreamscape that is often present in Fornasetti graphic poetry.

The next scent to be created was ‘Flora di Fornasetti’ a beautiful and elegant white floral bouquet.  The scent is inspired partly by the lush flora that fills the gardens that envelope the Fornasetti house in Milan but also by the floral imagery created by Piero Fornasetti and taken from the vast archive.  A voluptuous melange of floral, green and woody notes including ivy, lily of the valley, iris, jasmine, tuberose, sandalwood and musk. ‘Flora di Fornasetti’ was created by perfumer Emmanuel Philip, the name behind many of the iconic scents created for French candle maker Cire Trudon.

Fornasetti Profumi has been a wonderful way for WORLD to find a new Fornasetti following.  Along with Fornasetti furniture and atelier retailer Design 55 in Auckland we now able to live within his whismical world, and to further explore the seemingly limitless expression of creativity with new and long time Fornasetti fans.  It is not our only goal to convince you that these are the sort of gorgeous objects that will enrich you life, but also to advance your understanding and appreciation of this incomparable artist, his history and his future.

Previous article WORLD - Behind the scenes SS16 Shoot

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields