(The Sign and the Spirit)

As promised in Part 1 L’Eleganza del Design dedicated to Gabriella Crespi,
A-Gent of Style reveals today the latest events and collaborations in the life of the famous Italian designer, artist and sculptress.


Sergio Rossi, the glamourous Italian footwear brand, has collaborated with the ageless Gabriella Crespi  paying tribute to the artistic accomplishments of Crespi, now 91 years old. The Design Director Angelo Ruggeri designed two years ago a special collection inspired by her furniture, composed of ten different shoe pieces which will be launched in Sergio Rossi stores starting December 2013.

The launch of the collaboration took place two years ago in Milan during the renowned Salone del Mobile fair at the historical residence Palazzo Crespi (belonging to Crespi’s cousin, Giulia Maria Crespi) thus reinforcing the existing bond that strongly links the brand to the world of art, fashion and design.

Enthusiastic international collectors agreed for the first time ever to share and show to the public their Gabriella Crespi masterpieces – all signed and normally jealously guarded in their private homes – during this exclusive event.







The designer commented this ‘creative project’ with Sergio Rossi by saying:
“I’m very interested in new creative fields and I accepted this collaboration out of curiosity and with a spirit of pure enjoyment. I found the basic idea of the capsule collection – with that sleek, drizzled, almost liquid heel inspired by my Gocce Oro candelabra from 1974 – extremely different and challenging. There was a common goal behind this creative project: to make a product that was aesthetically beautiful and revealed outstanding craftsmanship. I find that art, design and fashion have countless points of contact: they communicate and challenge one another naturally, almost through osmosis.”

The first segment is inspired by Gabriella Crespi’s iconic elements: lacquers, multiple elements, and moons. Curved shapes and silhouettes predominate and are characterized by elements in contrasting colours that bring to mind the works of Gabriella Crespi where red, white and black are combined with brass and steel. The most representative shoe in this segment is the iconic Sergio Rossi pump reinterpreted with transparent effects, metallic-finish leathers, lacquers, and patent leather to suggest the famous Yang Yin table.





The second segment of the collection, which is tied to the world of jewellery, celebrates Gabriella Crespi’s unique creative talent with sculpture-like shoes that perfectly blend the sophisticated craftsmanship of the brand and the visionary talent of the designer. Filigree, a technique favoured by the artist, is the leitmotif of this segment.

The heels drizzled with gold clearly evoke the famous 1974 Gocce Oro candelabras, while layers of laminated leather cover the entire foot to recreate the exquisite effect of her precious jewellery.

1974 candelabri

1974 candelabri


So now you can start writing your Christmas list and wait patiently for these creations to hit the stores in December!

A-Gent of Style really hopes this is one of many new visionary projects Gabriella Crespi will be involved in!


Just like “The Poetess of Metal” Line Vautrin, Gabriella Crespi is as relevant today as she was back in the 1960s and 1970s and has found in the last 8 years a renewed interest all around the world. According to Liz O’Brien, the New York dealer, her work is more difficult to find because ”people still treasure it.”

A-Gent of Style came across the famous Milanese artist, designer and sculptress a few years ago when he was sourcing with Veere Grenney in Paris for his clients. Working for such a distinguished Interior Decorator meant A-Gent could extend his search to Gabriella Crespi, then already in high demand amongst collectors. We found this fantastic travertine coffee table with two extending table tops which fitted perfectly well in the clients’ sitting room. A love affair between A-Gent of Style and ‘anything Crespi’ then ensued.

Imagine A-Gent of Style‘s delight when he spotted in May this year at the Artcurial’s Design auction in Paris the acrylic and brass base ‘Pyramid’ table lamp and saw it go under the hammer for €4,547.

At the age of 91, Crespi is still working and her simple yet highly covetable quality lighting and furniture have achieved a renaissance and still look young and is admired today by Ambra Medda, Lenny Kravitz or Stella Mc Cartney for whom she worked on a limited reissue of some of her jewellery collection from the 1970s, then at the acme of her career.

I particularly love Crespi’s art because it represents the perfect balance between design and sculptural abstraction which “unites strength and flexibility”, as she would say. She uses also some of my favourite materials – metals – either in silver or gold, highly polished, brushed or mirrored, and geometric, sharp or sensuous curves play a huge role. She never fails to surprise and delight me with her innovative and distinctive furniture and their iconic openings, closings, compartments, extensions, rotations and swivellings. Multi-functionality has become her trademark.

Her creations range from the ‘metamorphic’ tables, to libraries that become room partitions, the innovative seats convertible into beds, and her focus on nature translates in whole collections made of natural materials, in the creation of zoomorphic objects with a real ostrich egg or hand-blown glass.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 17.47.39

”I was in love with Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright when I was young,” and some of her more bulky pieces remind me as well of Paul Evans, her then American contemporary.

by Gabriella Crespi

by Gabriella Crespi


by Paul Evans

by Paul Evans

Crespi had a fascinating life and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed putting the pieces of the jigsaw of her life together during my peregrinations. When I go to paris and visit my favourite antiques dealers, I always learn an anecdote about her. Thrilling.

Gabriella Crespi comes from one of the richest families in Italy (who owned a textile empire and a major Italian newspapers) and became one of the foremost designers in Italy. Incredibly, she did not have a factory, or even a separate studio. She would make detailed drawings at home and bring them to various artisans around Milan, where, in those days, a designer could dream up a sensational piece and quickly have a prototype made, sometimes overnight, by a fine woodworker or metalsmith. At the height of her success,the beautiful and glamourous socialite maintained a showroom and warehouse in Milan and a showroom and elegant apartment in the historic Palazzo Cenci in Rome. She became very prolific and her work graced the residences of her famous clients Dior House, Elisabeth Arden, Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco, Gunther Sachs and the Shah of Iran.

The seating and cocktail table in the entry are by Gabriella Crespi, and the Persian rug was a gift from the Shah of Iran to Prince Emanuele Filiberto’s parents

The seating and cocktail table in the entry are by Gabriella Crespi, and the Persian rug was a gift from the Shah of Iran to Prince Emanuele Filiberto’s parents

In 1985, she released the last interviews on her work as a designer before abruptly stopping everything in 1987 and setting out on a new life completely devoted to the spiritual quest in the Himalayas, a path she follows to this today. ”I rid myself of everything,” she said. ”The showrooms, the warehouse, the Rome apartment, the house in Sardinia. Everything.” She lived there until 2005 before returning to Europe.

Gabriella Crespi now lives in Milan, practices meditation daily, and is considering new creative projects.

And has she found infinity – the theme to her whole existence? ”Oh, yes,” Crespi sighs joyfully. ”But it is never-ending.”

Aren’t we just lucky!


Lenny Kravitz's 'Apartement particulier' in Paris

Lenny Kravitz’s ‘Apartement particulier’ in Paris





vitrine coffee table

Aerin Lauder's NYC dressing room

Aerin Lauder’s NYC dressing room










letter tray

letter tray





Stay tuned for Part 2 where A-Gent of Style will be revealing soon the latest events and collaborations in the life of the ageless Gabriella Crespi…


Serendipitous – I guess that’s the best way to describe the flux of  seemingly unrelated events that led A-Gent of Style to today’s recipient. Here is, in a nutshell, the main occurrences of the last four days:

  • Sunday – preprandial walk to Serpentine / A-Gent walks past building site of new Serpentine gallery designed by Zaha Hadid / wonders when it will it be finished
  • Monday – sister announces she and family are moving to Rio / A-Gent thinks Christmas on Copacabana /mention of 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics / not bothered / A-Gent reminisces about London 2012 Games and attending event at Aquatics Centre /looks at last year’s photos / thinks…Zaha Hadid
  • Tuesday – morning news on Ipad / Design Museum building sold to…Zaha Hadid
  • Wednesday – A-Gent at Chelsea Harbour Design Centre / lunchtime stroll by river / spots Roca London Gallery / thinks style looks familiar / ponders / and then screams…Zaha Hadid

Old news for some but global bathroom brand Roca have collaborated with Zaha Hadid Architects to create their flagship showroom in the UK. But the result is far more than the expected standard showroom: it is the synergy between design, architecture and one of the four classical natural elements – water – and the perfect example of urban renovation.

Located in Imperial Wharf by Chelsea Harbour in a mixed-use building, what used to be an ordinary space (a hotel) has been transformed into an incredibly innovative and sensory space of unrestricted beauty which not only showcases the Spanish brand’s latest products but also serves as a hub for research and a wide range of social and cultural events, including exhibitions, meetings, presentations, debates and receptions.

The exterior and interior of the Gallery seem interwoven as both the facade as well as the inner entrance are made of solid, dark grey glass-reinforced concrete which looks like it has been eroded by time and water but still remains a sense of vitality and grace with its seamless undulations and waves.

When you walk in, you immediately forget you are looking for showers, basins or taps; you are transported into a cutting-edge, otherworldly space that looks like a fictional, futuristic spaceship.

Which is exactly what Dame Hadid excels at: revolutionary experimentation, vision of the future with new spatial concepts and bold, visionary forms. Let’s not forget that the Iraqi-British architect, voted one of the most ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’, has redesigned the world’s architectural landscape and that through her sensational projects (London Aquatics Centre, Guangzhou Opera House in China, Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre for instance) has created her own unique, visual language and identity.

The theme of water intentionally prevails here: the Gallery is a changeable, fluid, moving space full of possibilities. The undulated and sinuous shapes and forms, the lack of right, sharp angles – all idiosyncratic to Hadid – give a cadence and rhythm to the rooms and corridors, all organically interconnected. I couldn’t help but think of the interior of Gaudi’s Casa Mila but also of Rudolf Steiner House in London.

The semi-enclosed, cave-like spaces are however not oppressive and heavy despite the spine of the Gallery being constructed out of sculptured white concrete. The show stealer are the incredible bulbous pods on the ceilings and on the walls which glow like water drops. This limpid cascade of glistening bubbles protrude from cut-outs, openings, recessed grooves and crevices, and give the space a sense of polished lightness and fluidity and, dare I say it, etherealness. They reminded me a lot of the cocoon-shaped toilet pods at Sketch.

Cutting-edge and modern audiovisual, sound and lighting equipments, like the interactive touchscreen above, are scattered around the Gallery.

The iconic white, plastic Panton chairs complement Hadid’s custom-made curvilinear desks made of white-lacquered polyester resin.

A-Gent of Style could easily hot-desks there…

For Roca, “Zaha Hadid Architects have created a precisely ordered, intimate sensory design environment which stimulates the visitor through its active and engaged relationship with Roca’s products”.

Despite the visible seams, the anthracite-coloured floor appears like a continuous mosaic of tiles snaking through the Gallery. In fact, each piece is unique and has been cut and laid one by one to keep the optical effect of the elemental water.

‘Hole’ in the wall

There’s definitely a lot to be said about the power of water as a transforming element.

Feel the flow!

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