Design Edit
Online Auction: 21–27 June 2022 • 6:00 PM CEST • Milan

Design Edit Milan 21–27 June 2022 • 6:00 PM CEST • Milan

O ur first dedicated design sale in Milan celebrates the remarkable influence of Italian design on the Design development from the 20th Century to the present day. The sale will feature a selection of works by Italian design masters, spanning from the rationalist architects Piero Bottoni, Giuseppe Pagano Pogatschnig and Gino Levi Montalcini, through the postwar explosive creativeness and entrepreneurship of Osvaldo Borsani, Gio Ponti, Gino Sarfatti, Ico Parisi, Max Ingrand and Ignazio Gardella, to the later experiences of postmodern architects Ettore Sottsass and Gaetano Pesce. We are also delighted to present the work of Osvaldo Borsani through a selection of furnishings designed and chosen for a private residence in Italy in the 1950, revealing his delightful touch and ingenious spirit, extreme attention to craftsmanship and quality production as well as his practice to collaborate with artists such as Lucio Fontana and Agenore Fabbri, who were his friends.

Auction Highlights

The 1950’s Spirit of Osvaldo Borsani

It is 1949, we are in the immediate postwar period and the presence of the family business, Arredamenti Borsani Varedo, is already an established reality in the national market. The numerous and prestigious orders which, even during the war period were not interrupted, confirmed the fame that Osvaldo Borsani held among a sophisticated clientele, expression of an entrepreneurial bourgeoisie which was in part still tied to stylistic features of pure social representation when interpreting the role of the domestic dwelling. The critical theoretical stimuli coming from the development of the new industrial production techniques, the gradual establishment of the seriality concept, and the grounds of rationalism implied in the birth of design as an autonomous discipline, would soon lead Borsani toward a decisive turning point.

Indeed, it was in 1953 that he founded Tecno, a modern factory for the mass production of furniture.

In these " years of transit ", Borsani understands how the transition from a purely artisanal to an industrial dimension must necessarily be gradual. The unquestionable executive quality of the furniture coming out of the Varedo workshop, due to the very high specialization of the workers employed, constitutes an initial guarantee. Indeed, in the projects developed in these years, sophisticated and expressively elaborated proposals that were closer to a more traditional taste coexisted with a progressive simplification and rationalization of the design with a functionalist approach, as a result of the attention that Borsani paid to the stimuli coming from northern Europe and overseas (the Osvaldo Borsani Archive preserves as evidence a conspicuous collection of mainly German magazines and publications before the war and in English for the following period).

Like his father Gaetano did in the first decades of the Atelier's activity, Borsani in these years invited to collaborate on his projects a number of avant-garde artists (Lucio Fontana, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Fausto Melotti, Agenore Fabbri to name a few) with whom he refined and developed his vision of a global and integrated project in which all the stylistic and constructive elements coexist in a coherent and harmonious comprehensive vision. The collaboration with these artists operates on two fronts: on the one hand, it involves the direct intervention of the artist on the furniture such as Lucio Fontana designing and creating decorations for table tops, ceramic handles and sculptural support elements, or Arnaldo Pomodoro creating a series of bronze and ceramic headboards; on the other hand, it involves direct interventions in the project space such as the sculptural, spatialist or "baroque" ceilings created by Lucio Fontana for important furnishings.

In 1949 Osvaldo Borsani developed the project for the arrangement and furnishing of casa C of which some significant examples are presented here.

The furnishings presented on this occasion are part of a private residence project by Borsani in which the designer intervenes both directly on the architectural elements of the space and on the overall design of the furniture, and offer insights to better define the components of this poetics. The game table and dining table both feature marble tops with inlaid decorations, the first designed by the painter and graphic designer Marcello Piccardo and the second with floral elements made directly by the atelier's artisans.

Client proposals for a private residence in Italy. Courtesy of the Archivio Osvaldo Borsani.

The same tables were also offered on sale with simple wooden tops. In this case, the intervention of the artist represents a sort of added value that gives the object its peculiar characteristic of uniqueness. The same applies to the large bar cabinet, designed to divide two rooms with the help of communication panels, decorated to the rear and enriched with wooden sculptural elements to the front (interesting is the technical solution by Borsani to use bicycle chains for the up-and-down sliding mechanism of the front door).

The mahogany sideboard confirms, with its use of bronze handles, Borsani’s desire to offer his clientele the opportunity to own a unique piece in which artistic elements and design rigor coexist. The adjustable doors of mirror above the console are taken from the design of bedroom vanities and give personality to a distinctive element of the furnishing.

Client proposals for a private residence in Italy. Courtesy of the Archivio Osvaldo Borsani.

Equally, the series of seating elements presented demonstrate, on the one hand, with the pair of chairs from 1943 the re-proposition of established stylistic features somehow linked to tradition such and, on the other hand, with the pair of small armchairs with a wooden profile, the anticipation of a product that will soon enter Tecno's future company catalog as a standard seat.

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