Extravagant and eccentric Italian designer, Carlo Bugatti became an artist of international renown with a unique style.
image source: https://alchetron.com/Carlo-Bugatti
About his life
Carlo Bugatti was born in Milan on February 16, 1856. He studied at the Brera Academy in Milan and at the Académie des Beaux Arts in Paris. After opening his own workshop in Milan in 1898, Bugatti exhibited at the Exhibitions in Turin in 1898 and Paris in 1900. To start afresh, Bugatti with his wife Teresa and three children emigrated to Paris in 1904. There, he opened another workshop, this time producing luxury items. After the death of his wife and of the younger son, he went to live with his son Ettore, near the Bugatti car factory at Molsheim in the Alsace region of France. Bugatti died in April 1940
What were his major works?
Carlo Bugatti’s formal research on the circle and curbed shapes found their apex at the Turin International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art in 1902 where his Snail-room, built in a spiral around a bar representing the animal’s head, caused a sensation. The four chairs and the table devised to occupy the centre of the room are pure pieces of sculpture in which the strength of the shape answers the delicacy of the ornament. The international jury awarded the highest prize to the artist who was proclaimed “the first in Italy to realise rather than dream modern furniture”. Cobra Chair, which was part of a larger suite of furniture designed for the Snail-room, anticipated the Art Deco style.
Another remarkable work was the Curule Armchair or Throne Chair (1905), made of walnut and blackened wood, and inlayed with pewter, copper, brass and bone details. Bugatti’s use of mixed textures is always interesting, and it reinforces the sense of dynamic tension created by the lack of symmetry.
Also, his tea and coffee services are particularly impressive—in 1907, he created boar’s head, elephant-trunk, and dragonfly-themed sets.
How can we identify Bugatti’s style?
As a stylist he was highly individualistic, although drawing on Gothic, Moorish and Oriental influences and, particularly, the work of Violet le Duc, nearly all his work demonstrates a most confident use of simple powerful form; sometimes geometric; sometimes organic. His style set him apart from every trend en vogue in the early 1900s. Also, Bugatti was interested in animals and nature. Many of the pieces, which were made out of parchment, bone, mother-of-pearl, pewter, copper and other refined materials, were elaborately finished in a variety of colours and textures with dragonfly like decorative motifs.