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Fornasetti goes more compact - but still as quirky - at Milan Design Week

Pieces from Fornasetti's Musciarabia con Rose collection at Milan Design Week
Pieces from Fornasetti's Musciarabia con Rose collection at Milan Design Week Copyright Copyright Fornasetti
Copyright Copyright Fornasetti
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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Italian design house Fornasetti, famed for its whimsical, eye-catching designs are using Milan Design Week to launch three collections which include smaller pieces and new themes.

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If you’re in Milan for Design Week, don’t miss a visit to Fornasetti’s exhibition. The iconic Italian brand founded in the 1940s, famous for its ceramics with opera singer Lina Cavalieri's face, is unveiling its new collection. 

‘The Syntax of Making' is Fornasetti's three new collections of furniture and accessories for the home characterised by new decorations that speak for the brand’s quirky design look.

The new collections all dip into themes from the brand's archive. Giro di Conchiglie features three-dimensional sea-themed images including, of course, shells and a blue-coloured background with a hand-painted water-streaking effect.

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Pieces from Fornasetti's newly launched Giro di Conchiglie on displayCopyright Fornasetti

Giardino Settecentesco stands out for its use of vibrant colour and is inspired by natural landscapes and neoclassical style buildings while the Musciarabia con Rose collection plays into the brand’s famous geometry and black lines, adding hand-painted pink flowers which pop on the monochromatic backgrounds.

Across the three collections are various pieces of furniture and accessories for the home, including wooden cabinets, bedside tables, trays, mirrors, lamps and, of course, porcelain.

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Compact pieces from Fornasetti's new Giardino Settecentesco collectionCopyright Fornasetti

Fornasetti tells Euronews Culture that their work is so distinctive that owners only need to have a few pieces in order to, “transform any corner of the home into a microcosm of personality and elegance”.

The Italian design house is also offering more compact and functional pieces this Salone, including smaller cabinets and bedside tables and console tables which have sharper lines and drawers for adding storage without, Fornasetti says, “sacrificing their elegance”.

While a number of the pieces from this collection are perhaps a little more traditional than usual, Fornasetti hasn’t shied away from its famed quirky style, with mirrors in an unusual curved shape - with some featuring a unique design with nine glass bubbles in a mirror - and trays which look like artists’ canvases.

Fornasetti explains that it’s crucial for them as a design house to maintain their slow production process to add to the quality of each piece and to pay homage to their Italian heritage, referencing the themes in the Syntax of Making.

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Shell dishes from the Giro di Conchiglie collection, all of which are painstakingly handpaintedCopyright Fornasetti

Barnaba Fornasetti, the brand's artistic director, told press why it’s so important to maintain the same processes they've relied upon for 80 years, saying, "The value of making things by hand has acquired a deep meaning for me over time. It goes beyond technique and the desire to preserve a firm and coherent identity. It is a choice and a way of being today, in our modern world, an ethical line that puts people and what they make at the centre of everything,” adding, “Craftsmanship is a conscious way of working, fuelled by a dynamic creativity, which embodies the extraordinary capacity to continuously combine abstract knowledge and experience, what I like to call 'thinking with the hands'”.

Fornasetti told us that they employ six painters for their furniture and 16 for their small ceramic pieces. It's a local affair, as well as a small one with the workshop based in Milan itself.

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The compact Musciarabia con Rose collection on show at Milan Design WeekCopyright Fornasetti

To demonstrate how much care the brand take with their pieces, visitors to the installation won’t just be able to see the new collection, but also the process behind it, with live painting by the atelier's painters in the store and rooms filled with images from their archive, like silk-screen printing frames used to create their signature black lines.

Fornasetti’s offering for the Salone is on display at their store on Corso Venezia in Milan until 23 April.

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