fornasetti: variations on a theme exhibition
fornasetti: variations on a theme exhibition fornasetti: variations on a theme exhibition
mar 05, 2010

fornasetti: variations on a theme exhibition

‘l’oro fa male’
antique gold finish, 30cm x 18cm (diameter), limited edition of 10 pieces

designboom visited the exhibition ‘variations on a theme’ which is currently being shown
at spazio fornasetti in milan. it will run until april 3, 2010.

left: ‘flora’ , green embossed polka-dots, 30cm x 18 cm (diameter), limited edition of 6 pieces
right: ‘l’oro fa male’
image © designboom

‘variations on a theme’ exhibit at spazio fornasetti, milan
image © designboom

the limited edition vase collection entitled ‘variations on a theme’ is produced by the
italian company bitossi ceramiche.
the ‘freak’ vases are all offsprings of piero and barnaba fornasetti‘s designs.
originally, a chalk mould of a vase designed by piero fornasetti in the 50s was found in
the cellar by his son barnaba. although, it never made its way into production,
it soon became the starting point for this current exhibition.

‘giara’, white vase with handles, 30cm, limited edition of 49 pieces
image © designboom

each vase is a variation of the original chalk mold with changes made to decoration
or form, thus, helping to give each piece its own personality.vases are also given nicknames
such ciccio (chubby), smilzo (skinny), bitorzolo (lumpy), flora, l’antipatico (the unpleasant)
to further pronounce the individuality of each design.

‘variations’ wrote gio ponti, in his introduction to the exhibition – an expression of
piero fornasetti 250 variations on a woman’s face -, ‘is not just a high motive or musical
exercise; it is an intellectual traditions and virtuosity of the imagination.’

‘bianco bacio’
image © designboom

‘tea time’, white vase with tea-pot on the head and cup, 30cm, limited edition of 10 pieces
image © designboom

‘a stimulating experience came from observing closely the skills of the craftmen, the kindness
of cinzia bitossi and giampaolo monti and our mutual understanding, which allowed me
to make a small contribution, a ‘variation’, even on a ‘theme’ of their own history. on some
vases I’ve worked with colors, finishes and textures; on others I’ve enjoyed playing with
the shape, finding variations practical uses as for the table, the lamps or the teapot.
the choice of edition (a limited edition, a one-off pieces or a prototype) was dictated not
so much from commercial needs but from real practical issues to create the piece itself.
this whole experience is destined to develop in the future, therefore the catalogues gives
a partial overview of what has been done so far which will be available until the piece
sell out. the ‘minitature’ series is an unlimited edition and it will be integrated into production
with the new bestsellers.
‘ – barnaba fornasetti

‘lanterna’, table lamp, 30cm, limited edition of 99 pieces
image © designboom

some of the vases will form part of an installation with the tailored-surrealist dresses
designed by librorio capizzi reusing classic fornasetti wallpapers, fabrics and ties.

‘paglietta’, white vase with boater, limited edition of 10 pieces
image © designboom

milan painter, sculptor and interior decorator piero fornasetti first used the iconic wood cut
image in the 1952. the face belonging to famous cinema actress lina cavalieri has since
been manipulated , modified, cut , trimmed, disguised, perforated, tatooed and bandaged
throughout the many decades of his work. fornasetti’s son barnaba has perpetuated
the tradition of his father by continuing production and reviving the most popular pieces.

left: ‘organico’, organic finish, 30cm x 18cm (diameter), limited edition of 50 pieces
right: ‘rosso serraturo’
image © designboom

‘reggilibri’, 40cm, one-off piece
image © designboom


freaks family

original sketches by barnaba fornasetti
image © designboom

original sketches by barnaba fornasetti
image © designboom

original sketches by barnaba fornasetti
image © designboom

  • is this real design for life???
    is this something we really need today.

    why dont you put it into art instead.

    it is the same crap as ikea, just limited edition.
    and 10x more expensive.

    logo says:
  • hmmm…interesting divergence of ideas here; to my eye this is quite delightful, and seem to offer function as well. I haven’t looked at the price point, ( I’m sure I can’t afford them) but should cost always inform appreciation? For me, it’s more the way the pieces made me feel- strangely reassured was one feeling, ‘inspired’ another. Also, these images are part of very popular set of rubber stamps for crafters/artisans. Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt- to me they are like comfort food for the eye.

    pasha says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

design news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
501,538 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample