GIO PONTI (1891-1976) and 
GIO PONTI (1891-1976) and 
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This lot will be removed to Christie’s Park Royal.… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION
GIO PONTI (1891-1976) and PIERO FORNASETTI (1913-1988)


GIO PONTI (1891-1976) and
The 'Architettura' trumeau, 1951
trompe-l'œil screen-print, painted wood, brass
produced by Fratelli Radice, Milan, Italy, from the original production of 2
89 ½ x 31 ½ x 16 in. (227 x 80 x 41 cm.)
Melanie Kahane, US;
Private collection, New York;
Sotheby's, New York, 9 December 2005, lot 75;
Private collection, Milan;
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
For the companion example to the present lot:
C. Santi, Zetti, Spreafico, Ambienti arredati alla 9a Triennale di Milano, Quaderni Domus, no. 5, Milan, 1954, pp. 16-17;
A. Branzi, M. De Lucchi, eds., Il Design Italiano Degli Anni 50, Milan, 1985, p. 111, fig. 321;
P. Sparke, Italian Design, 1870 to the present, London, 1988, p. 97;
P. Maurie's, Fornasetti, designer of dreams, London, 1991, p. 100;
I. de Guttry, M.P. Maino, Il Mobile Italiano Degli Anni '40 e '50, Bari, 1992, p. 165, fig. 4;
C. Wilk, Western Furniture, 1350 to the present day, London, 1996, pp. 212-13;
U. La Pietra, Gio Ponti, New York, 1996, p. 168, fig. 353;
L. Falconi, Gio Ponti, Interni, oggetti, disegni 1920-1976, Milan, 2004, p. 160;
B. Fornasetti, Fornasetti, The Complete Universe, Milan, 2010, pp. 348-49.
Special notice
This lot will be removed to Christie’s Park Royal. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at and our fees for storage are set out in the table below - these will apply whether the lot remains with Christie’s or is removed elsewhere. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Christie’s Park Royal. All collections from Christie’s Park Royal will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends.

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Jeremy Morrison
Jeremy Morrison

Lot Essay

The collaboration between architect Gio Ponti and designer Piero Fornasetti was initiated by Ponti’s discovery of the distinctively-patterned silk scarves Fornasetti presented at the V Milan Triennale in 1933 that he chose to feature in his Domus magazine. The two effectively started working together in 1939 when Ponti, who was then working on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Rome, assigned Fornasetti the task of designing its floor. Ponti and Fornasetti established then an important working relationship that would last over twenty years, during which they furnished and decorated significant private commissions, such as the Dulciora emporium in Milan as well as large scale projects such as the Andrea Doria ocean liner and the San Remo Casino.

An icon of Post-War Italian design, the original Trumeau Architettura marked the height of the collaboration between the architect and the designer. The trumeau features the three separate storage sections characteristic of the 18th Century Neoclassical furniture form, the central part designated to function as a writing desk. Produced in only two examples with this décor, the companion trumeau to the present lot was notably revealed at the IX Milan Triennale in 1951 (illustrated) alongside other works by the architect, marking the first appearance of what was to become a signature model for the two collaborators. Gio Ponti’s rationalist approach, evident in the solemn personality of the trumeau conferred clear boundaries and set structure to Fornasetti’s architectural themed patterns, both fantastic and surrealist. Effectively, the two contrasting characteristics offered an unexpected balance between their opposing yet complimentary artistic personalities. Eventually, the Trumeau Architettura was to be subsequently produced, with differing surface treatments, throughout the ensuing decades. The first adaptation that Fornasetti made to the original collaborative design was to remove the curved top and then to adapt the sabot-capped tapering legs to ebonised block feet.

Only two examples of the original 1951 Gio Ponti - Piero Fornasetti collaborative model, with the distinctive curved top and sabot-capped wooden legs, were executed. The other, exhibited at the IX Milan Triennale, has been in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, since 1983. In contrast to the white-painted legs of the present lot, the V example had polished wood legs which were replaced in the 1980s. The history of the present lot can be traced back to a New York writer who acquired the Trumeau from the celebrated and pioneering interior designer Melanie Kahane. Preserved as the collaborative duo intended, this important Trumeau cabinet represents the sole remaining opportunity to engage with an example of this seminal design from the original production.

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