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History

1913
BIRTH AND EARLY YEARS
Piero Fornasetti is born in Milan on 10 November. The eldest son of a wealthy middle-class family - his father trades in typewriters - he spends his childhood in the Città Studi district. At the age of 10, he already shows a strong artistic disposition.
1930
A PATH OF SELF-EDUCATION
He enrolls at the Brera Academy to study drawing, but is expelled because he rejects the teaching methods. In 1932, he enters the School of Applied Arts at the Castello Sforzesco, training himself and following his own inclinations.
1939 - 1940
PIERO FORNASETTI AND GIO PONTI
Ponti appreciates the work of Fornasetti's art printworks. In 1939, he entrusts him with the first cover of Domus, of which he is the director. The collaboration evolves: in the 1940s comes the first commission for a piece of furniture decorated with one of his artistic prints.
1940
THE ATELIER
He opens his Atelier. Alongside technical experimentation, his activity as a printer of art books flourishes. He prints editions and books by the major artists of the time: De Chirico, Campigli, Savinio, Clerici, Fontana.
1942
PUBLIC DECORATIONS
In Padua he frescoes the Rectorate of Palazzo Bo, home of the University. It is his first major public intervention. In Milan he decorates the officers' mess of the barracks in Piazza Sant'Ambrogio.
1943 - 1946
ARTISTIC EXILE
During the war years he takes refuge in Switzerland, where he becomes a designer for a textile company, paints and works as a set designer and costume designer. These are the years of Follia Pratica (Practical Madness), the self-portraits, and the series of harlequins.
1947-1949
INTERIOR DECORATIONS
He makes eight large panels for the Arlecchino cinema in Milan. He adorns the interiors of the Dulciora pastry shop with a series of very rich decorations, following the principle of horror vacui.
1950
INTERNATIONAL FAME AND A SON
A period of great creativity and international renown begins. He decorates the games room of the Giulio Cesare liner, the interiors of the Hotel Duomo in Milan and the Casino of Sanremo. He exhibits his work in New York. His son Barnaba is born.
1951-1952
"TOTAL LOOK" INTERIORS
Working with Gio Ponti, he creates the first complete interior design for Casa Lucano. He furnishes and decorates a first class cabin of the Andrea Doria ocean liner. He exhibits the Architettura trumeau at the IX Triennale di Milano.
1953
THE CREATION OF AN ICON
The Tema e Variazioni series is born. Over the years he reproduces and reinterprets, varies and reassembles the portrait of Lina Cavalieri countless times, making it one of the icons of the Atelier.
1958
THE METAPHYSICAL ROOM
He concludes and presents the Metaphysical Room, a work composed of thirty-two decorative panels each 3 metres high, which can be arranged in various ways to form a space for meditation. It is his first example of installation art.
1959
THE NEIMAN MARCUS AWARD
For distinguishing himself in the field of fashion, in Dallas he is awarded the Neiman Marcus Award, an annual award for individuals capable of promoting and influencing style.
1968-1972
BARNABA YOUNG ART DIRECTOR
Barnaba Fornasetti attends the Brera Academy of Fine Arts. During his years of study, while still very young, he works with the fabric designer Ken Scott and is the creative director of the underground magazine Get Ready.
1970-1979
PIERO CURATOR
He also devotes time to curating exhibitions as well as producing new paintings and drawings. In 1977 he becomes Artistic Director of the Bibliophiles Gallery, founded in 1970. In 1979 he curates a design column in Casa Vogue
1982
COLLABORATION BETWEEN FATHER AND SON
Upon Piero's request, Barnaba returns to Milan from Tuscany, where he was living, and starts working in the Atelier. Father and son begin their partnership by decorating a Ford Granada station wagon together. And that's how the Archivettura was born.
1983
AT THE VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM
The Victoria & Albert Museum acquires the Architettura Trumeau for its permanent furniture collection.
1988-1990
BARNABA IN CHARGE
Piero dies in 1988. Barnaba decides to carry on the legacy of the Atelier and takes over its management. He dedicates these years to re-examining his father's activity, extrapolating principles, methods, characteristics and intuitions.
1991-1992
THE EXHIBITION AT THE VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM
The Victoria and Albert Museum dedicates a large exhibition to Fornasetti, which Barnaba himself helps to set up. The exhibition is also shown at Palazzo Ruspoli in Rome. The first monograph dedicated to Fornasetti is published.
1993-1994
THE FIRST CLOTHING COLLECTION
Barnaba initiates the first creative collaborations, producing a collection of Fornasetti clothing with the fashion designer Lawrence Steele.
2006-2010
THE NEW LINES
At around this time, Barnaba finds an unpublished sketch by Piero for a series of vases, and creates what will go on to become an iconic Fornasetti object. In parallel, he develops new product lines, including Fornasetti wallpapers and Home Fragrances.
2013-2016
THE GREAT RETROSPECTIVES
The centenary of his birth sees the first major exhibition in Italy: Piero Fornasetti. One hundred years of practical madness at the Triennale di Milano. This is followed by appearances at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, DDP in Seoul and Artipelag in Stockholm.
2015
CULTURAL DECORATIONS
Decoration of the Rizzoli bookstore in New York. Restoration and decoration of the Teatro dell'Arte at the Triennale di Milano.
2016
FORNASETTI GOES ON STAGE
Under the artistic direction of Barnaba, Fornasetti produces an opera, The rake punished or Don Giovanni by W.A. Mozart with a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, performed for the first time in Italy in its original version.
2017
THE MAD VISIONARIES! AWARD
Barnaba extends Fornasetti's creativity beyond the boundaries of design, establishing artistic collaborations with Commes des Garcons and the artist Anj Smith, as well as decorating a monument in the centre of Milan. He is awarded with the MAD Visionaries! Award.
2018-2021
DIALOGUE WITH THE CLASSICAL
On Barnaba's initiative, two exhibitions are organised on the theme of the dialogue between the language of Fornasetti and classical art, with the title: >i>Practical Quotes. Fornasetti at Palazzo Altemps in Rome, and Fornasetti Theatrum Mundi at the Pilotta in Parma.

Cultural projects

2013 - 2014
Fornasetti. One Hundred Years of Practical Madness
A century after his birth, the Triennale di Milano dedicates a retrospective to Piero Fornasetti, exploring the artist's work in a wide-ranging way, from graphic art to design objects, from paintings to interior decoration.
2015
Fornasetti. La Folie Pratique
An exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris that recounts 50 years of Piero Fornasetti's art and im-agination: on display are the first paintings, the visionary projects created with Gio Ponti, the prints, and the most iconic creations.
2016
Tema e Variazioni. The first series
Fornasetti celebrates its iconic Tema e Variazioni series by devoting an artist's book to it, made entirely by hand and containing the first 100 variations. The result is a unique, personally signed, limited edition volume.
2016 - 2017
Fornasetti. Practical Madness
Seoul, Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Over 1300 items tell the story of Fornasetti from his debut as a painter to the art book print workshop, from the close collaboration with Gio Ponti starting in the 1940s to the contemporary works created by Barnaba.
2016 - 2017
Don Giovanni
Fornasetti presents The Rake Punished or Don Giovanni in its original version, bringing in a team of outstand-ing artists. The opera is staged at the Triennale di Milano and at the Teatro della Pergola in Florence.
2017 - 2018
Fornasetti at Palazzo Altemps
The spaces of Palazzo Altemps interact with 27 artistic incursions created using over 800 Fornasetti creations. Practical quotes. Fornasetti at Palazzo Altemps creates an unsettling dialogue between the classical and the Atelier's creative flair.
2019 - 2020
Fornasetti. Inside In, Outside Out
The first exhibition in Sweden, which encompasses Piero Fornasetti's entire output, from paintings to draw-ings, from graphic art to furniture, from design objects to installations, right up to the contemporary works of his son Barnaba.
2019
Anj Smith: The Mountain of the Muse
Fornasetti collaborates with the English artist Anj Smith, who engages creatively with some of the Atelier's iconic pieces. The collection is presented for the first time, on the occasion of MiArt, at the Poldi Pezzoli Mu-seum in Milan.
2019
Carlo dell'Acqua: S/Oggetti Parziali
A bold challenge, almost a provocation: at the invitation of Barnaba Fornasetti, the artist Carlo Dell'Acqua manipulates, smashes up and then recreates the female face portrayed on the porcelain plates of the Tema e Variazioni series, giving them a new life.
2019
Fornasetti Cult
With the aim of building a space that is always open to the imagination, Fornasetti sets up a non-profit asso-ciation to launch projects and initiatives of an artistic nature. Its first initiatives include the poetry events Pa-role Urbane.
2020 - 2021
Fornasetti Theatrum Mundi
The dialogue between the architecture and artworks of the Complesso Monumentale della Pilotta in Parma and the imagination of Fornasetti creates a true "theatre of the world": a network of iconographic references and cultural suggestions to inspire new interpretations.
2020
Eroica: Beethoven and Bonaparte
Fornasetti invites three illustrious scholars to investigate the connection between Beethoven and Napoleon. The result is a volume of critical essays accompanied by a CD containing the Eroica Symphony, performed by the Silete Venti! orchestra and directed by Simone Toni.
2021
Parole Urbane
The cultural series presented by Fornasetti Cult. and curated by Stefano Raimondi with the actress Marta Comerio.
A dialogue between the city and the words depicting it, for the first time conceived as a podcast featuring major voices from the Italian cultural world, both literary and scientific.
Audio in Italian only.
The atelier
where imagination
meets design
2016
FORNASETTI GOES ON STAGE
Under the artistic direction of Barnaba, Fornasetti produces an opera, The rake punished or Don Giovanni by W.A. Mozart with a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, performed for the first time in Italy in its original version.