I Sniffed That Console

When I became a dealer, older dealers showed us newbies the art of hands-on inspection. This investigative work uses 4 of the 5 senses.

Recently, while examining a unique cabinet by a well known Italian maker at an auction preview, I became uncomfortable. An interior bank of drawers looked fishy. I seemed to smell.. solvent or stain? What really made me uncomfortable was the underside of the top. On all fours, head inside the case, looking up, I saw…particle board, and not old particle board..but brand spanking new particle board, totally inconsistent with what should have been there. That lot sold for $20,000.00 and upon inspection was obviously doctored.

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The Cradle of Italian Design

Unique Desk by Ico Parisi by Fratelli Rizzi, Capiago Intimiano, Italy 1958

Design books and magazine articles on the development of Italian Modernism and post war construction continuously champion the vital role played by Italy’s architects and larger manufacturers. As a result, the names of Ponti, Mollino, Albini, Ulrich, Mangiarotti, Frattini, Parisi, Sottsass, Scarpa, Cassina, Gavina are all very well known. Missing from the discourse however, are the many small producers, with whom architects collaborated to create the body of work which is now called Italian Moderism.

Commenting on what he saw at the 1951 Triennale, american architect, Dorwin Teague saw Italy’s craftsmanship as its greatest resource. These fine artisans were not the mere executors of the architects’ visions. Their knowledge of traditional craft and forms played an influential and important role in shaping the very look of Italian design. Continue reading

Cristal Art Important Glass Makers of Turin

While Murano, is Italy’s most well known glass making center, nearby Milan, (Fontana Arte)  and Turin, (Cristal Art) had their own important glass making companies. Between the 1950’s and 1980’s Fontana Arte and Cristal Art were competitors.  In Good Design’s inventory, I‘ve two very special Cristal Art mirrors. Their manufacture was both labor intensive and time consuming. Each was produced using an exclusive patented process, in which running water continuously cooled a grinding wheel, while the glass worker engraved patterns into the glass. After the detailed engraving was completed the design was then gilded. Up until now Fontana Arte has been very well known, while Cristal Art was not. That is about to change.

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Gio Ponti’s Parco Dei Principi

Parco Dei Principi

Design destinations are often a little disappointing. As the years go by structures are re-purposed or the inhabitants want something new. So it’s rare to see a place left just as the architect wished it to be. Gio Ponti’s Parco dei Principe Hotel in Sorrento is true to the vision of the master.
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Looking at Vintage Steel Furniture

How long do viewers spend with a work of art?  Most spend 15 to 30 seconds. But real seeing takes patience, time, developing your eye. What you see depends on what you know and what you’ve seen before. How long you look and how intensely, will alter what you see. Observing carefully is critical in evaluating a piece of furniture. Even after owning something for years I’ve made discoveries. Here are three chairs that are similar but not the same. Let’s look at them together. As you learn to slow down and regard what’s in front of you, you’ll see more details.

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