It is no secret that many of my favorite and best finds come from stalking auction houses. It is the thrill of the hunt, the labor of love and the potential success that can turn any hobby into a passion. There are so many beautiful and distinctive pieces that go up for auction that strategy plays a large part in the risk as well as the reward. I cannot bid on every item I love, as I then might be considered a certifiable hoarder, and I also need to be somewhat conservative and discerning when bidding on items for inventory or clients. Auction items have the "estimated" price range for the believed winning bid, but then there is the buyer's premium (usually hovering somewhere around 25%) taxes and shipping. All things need to be taken into serious consideration for the overall budget and value. Shipping a $300 armoire might not be worth the additional $450 freight if it is just really a $300 armoire. But, if you are getting a $300 armoire that at your local antique shop might retail for $2,000- then you have yourself a deal. Not to mention, many times wood pieces will need restoration and refinishing and upholstered pieces might need the frames to be reworked and the body to be reupholstered.
This past weekend, I had some bids out there that I sadly did not win. It is never really that disappointing, because I always know something else will come along, but I did find myself harboring a slight sense of longing for the above commode. First of all, this has many elements I love: black & white, brass hardware and a sheer uniqueness that makes this a chest no one would forget. The piece is very much inspired by Piero Fornasetti, a dynamic Italian painter, sculpture and furniture designer. Born in 1913, Mr. Fornasetti was an artist who pushed the limits on socially "acceptable" art and created pieces that entertain the idea of wit as well as whimsy. His imaginative style of decoration has been brought to recent times by the wallpaper manufacturer, Cole & Sons.
Cole & Sons wallpaper is distributed through Kravet and this is how I first came to know the Fornasetti style. Basically, these reproductions were all I knew of the famously fanciful artist. For the right price you can plaster this woman's face all over your powder room walls. Same expression. Different variations. Almost seems like a more modern day Mona Lisa. Only when I came across the inspired commode did I start to research the true expanse of his work. I'm obsessed.
Part of me doesn't even know where to begin. Being from Italy, where design almost interwoven into their ideology, I am sure Fornasetti's style, while paying tribute to the past, appeared to be a futuristic approach. Maybe it is because his designs have roots in the classical, but also seamlessly cross the line into the contemporary, that they still seem extremely relevant today. In reviewing the depth and scope of his pieces I cannot help but think that Fornasetti's work has influenced some of our current modern day decorative gurus, such as Jonathan Adler and John Derain. Fornasetti was cultivating his designs at the same time America and Europe were embracing the Art Deco style and it is very clear that this was a movement that would aesthetically change and influence our material world for many decades to come.