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