Fornasetti: The Architectural Magician

Piero Fornasetti was a master at creating paintings, drawings, and furniture in a distinctly original and eclectic style.  From the 1930s until his death in 1988, the Milan-based artist reinterpreted every day objects into fantastical and humorous images. Some of his most iconic pieces feature his muse, Italian opera singer Lina Cavalieri, whose face he used over and over again on everything from ceramic plates to wallpaper. However, the Italian artist’s greatest achievement has been his ability to manipulate architecture using wallpaper that creates the illusion of a room within a room or an expansive sky in place of a ceiling.  Today, Fornasetti’s family carries on his legacy through the Fornasetti wallpaper collection for Cole & Son.

Cole And Son Lee Jofa Fornasetti Malachite Wallpaper Decorators Best
Photo via Pinterest

Piero’s son, Barnaba Fornasetti, has reinterpreted his father’s creations into theatrical wallpapers that play with reality through the use of architectural friezes and motifs, stylized clouds, mischievous monkeys, and family treasures. This new Fornasetti Collection Vol. II is sure to become as popular and iconic in the interior design vernacular as the original artwork itself. Here are a few of our favorites:

Floating Through Time & Space

Piero Fornasetti Balloon ocassional Table and Tema e Variazioni Ceramic Plate Whimsical Interior Design Decorators Best
Photos via 1stDibs & Artodyssey1

Piero’s fascination with hot air balloons and flying objects can be seen above in his 1970s table and Lina Cavalieri face plate from the series Tema e Variazioni. Barnaba drew upon these pieces to create his own dreamlike wallpaper, Macchinne Volanti:

Decorators Best Fornasetti Vol II wallpaper collection Cole And Son Lee Jofa 97 1002
Photo via Cole & Son

Combining the wallpaper pattern  Macchinne Volanti (Flying Machines) with an architectural frieze, or border, like Balustrada gives the illusion that you are standing on a marble balcony, surrounded by a sky filled with balloons, blimps, and flying boats. Balustrada and Macchinne Volanti both feature the same cloud background that is seen in Nuvolette, Fornasetti’s stormy cloud paper, which makes all three patterns easy to mix together in a room. Hang Nuvolette on the ceiling and pair all three papers in the same room to feel as if you have stepped into an alternate universe.

Cole And Son Fornasetti Collection Vol II Macchinne Volanti Midnight Wallpaper 97 1002
Cole & Son’s Macchinne Volanti – Midnight Wallpaper
Cole And Son Fornasetti Collection Vol II Balaustrada Midnight & Silver Wallpaper 97 3009
Cole & Son’s Balustrada – Midnight & Silver Wallpaper
Cole And Son Fornasetti Collection Vol II Nuvolette Midnight 97 2005
Cole & Son’s Nuvolette – Midnight Wallpaper

Etruscan Arches

Whimsical Interior Design Decorators Best Fornasetti Treameau Cabinet

Many of Piero’s original designs from the 1950s and 1960s are lithographically printed wood furniture, like these two Trumeau chests. Piero was often inspired by Greek and Roman architecture and enjoyed manipulating perspective using their architectural details. Fornasetti’s talent for transforming ordinary objects into unique art can be seen throughout his oeuvre.

On a ceiling, Fornasetti’s Nuvolette wallpaper is intriguing and auspicious when paired with his famous arch print, Procuratie. Inspired by the buildings surrounding San Marco Piazza in Venice, the arches found on the fabric used in Fornasetti’s Milan store became the inspiration for Barnaba’s wallpaper Procuratie.:

Decorators Best Whimsical Interior Design Cole And Son Fornasetti Nuvolette Wallpaper
Photo via Pinterest
Cole & Son Wallpaper - Nuvolette - Black & White
Cole & Son Wallpaper – Nuvolette – Black & White
Cole And Son Fornasetti Collection Vol II Wallpaper Procuratie Back & White 97 9028
Cole & Son’s Procuratie – Black & White Wallpaper

Italian Cityscapes

Whimsical Interior Design Decorators Best Piero Fornasetti Tapestry
Photo via Mr.Peacock Style

Fornasetti expressed his love of Italy through mimicking Etruscan and Roman buildings and landscapes. This Etruscan tapestry became the inspiration for Riflesso, a mirage-like replication of a Roman skyline. Master of distorting reality, Fornasetti’s architectural wallpapers add character to any space. Procuratie e Scimmie marries Fornasetti’s love for architecture and monkeys, with technicolor primates clambering across the facade of the San Marco Plaza in Venice.

An architectural wallpaper extends a small space and adds a sense of whimsy to modern decor:

Decorators Best Whimsical Decor Inspiration Cole And Son Fornasetti Wallpaper Riflesso White
Photo via Perch New Orleans
Cole And Son Fornasetti Wallpaper Riflesso White 77 14051
Cole & Son’s Riflesso – White Wallpaper
Cole And Son Fornasetti Collection Vol II Procuratie E Scimmie Midnight & Purple 97 8023
Cole & Son’s Procuratie E Scimmie – Midnight & Purple Wallpaper

Treasured Heirlooms

Barnaba paid homage to his father’s original 1950s umbrella stand, pictured below, through his new border wallpaper featuring Piero’s own umbrella and walking stick collection.

Piero Fornasetti Umbrella Stand 1950 Whimsical Interior Design Decorators Best
Photo via 1stDibs

Here the border works well with  furniture and light fixtures that mimic the umbrella’s hues, plus a few well-placed monkeys for humor:

promenade fornasetti wallpaper cole and son
Photo via Cole & Son
Cole And Son Fornasetti Collection Vol II Promenade Multi Colour 97 6019
Cole & Son’s Promenade – Multi Colour Wallpaper

Want to add Fornasetti magic to your decor? Shop the entire collection online at!

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