GABRIELLA CRESPI, TIMELESS by PIASA





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A-Gent of Style has written on the blog a couple of special features about his love affair for Gabriella Crespi, extolling the talents of the famous Milanese designer, artist and sculptress.


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In two weeks’ time, a rare and seminal event will take place in Paris for any collector and admirer of Gabriella Crespi. French auction house PIASA is offering the auction GABRIELLA CRESPI, Timeless with a selection of the most important pieces created by the designer, artist, socialite & fashion muse who has left an indelible mark on 20th century Italian design with her inimitable taste Italian high-end design.

 

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– Auction –

November 26, 2014 – 6pm

PIASA, 118 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris

– Viewing –

November 21, from 10am to 7pm November 22, from 11am to 7pm November 24, from 11am to 7pm November 25, from 10am to 7pm November 26, from 10am to 1pm

You can view the full catalogue here

 

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All of Crespi’s designs place as much importance on aesthetics as on functionality, or even multi-functionality: coffee-tables are raised in height, bookcases are transformed into partitions, chairs turn into beds. A fine example is provided by her ingenious, twin-opening Mr-Mme commode (€20,000-30,000). Other sale highlights include a bamboo and brass Fungo lamp from her Rising Sun series (est. €5,000-7,000), and her 1976  Tavolo Scultura coffee table (est. €20,000-30,000).


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She was born in 1922 and grew up in Tuscany, near Florence, before studying architecture at the Politecnico in Milan, where she discovered Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. She married into one of Italy’s wealthiest families, who owned the Corriere della Sera and a textiles empire. From Rome and Milan she hired the finest craftsmen to produce her designs. Most of her works were produced in limited editions and have been rare and highly sought-after since the 1970s – and are all the more so today. Her designs are rare and were mostly the result of special commissions. Several leading personalities were passionately enthusiastic about her work, including Elizabeth Arden, Thomas Hoving (former head of New York’s Metropolitan Museum), Greek shipping magnate Georges Livanos, Princess Grace, Gunther Sachs and the Shah of Iran.


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Gabriella Crespi has always conveyed an art de vivre in tune with her times, full of freedom and pioneering ‘bohemian-chic’: a mix of 1970s aspiration and Italian tradition.

Although her style goes perfectly with materials like wood, bamboo, mirror and plexiglas, Gabriella Crespi’s most characteristic designs are in metal – notably brass. The convertible, three-part dining-table, from her celebrated Yang Yin series designed in 1979, is a perfect blend of brass and lacquered wood (est. €20,000-30,000).



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 Other sale highlights include a bamboo and brass Fungo lamp from her Rising Sun series (est. €5,000-7,000), and her 1976 Tavolo Scultura coffee table (est. €20,000-30,000). Crespi also designed a collection of sculpted animals in the purest tradition of de luxe Italian metalwork, embellished with eggs made from Murano glass or, in the case of her elegant, hand-chased silver plated Ostrich, with a veritable ostrich egg (est. €2,500-3,000).



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At the height of her fame, Crespi had two showrooms, one on Milan’s Via Montenapoleone, and the second one in the former Palazzo Cenci in Rome, where her furniture was set off against spectacular frescoes of Umbrian landscapes. But, in 1987, she decided to close her company and devote herself to spirituality: she would continue to spend several months each year in the most remote regions of India into her eighties. Back in Italy Gabriella Crespi remains a respected fount of inspiration, and Milan paid tribute to her with the exhibition Il Segno e lo Spirito at the Palazzo Reale in 2011: a journey through the languages of contemporary expression via Gabriella Crespi’s work and artistic output.

To mark the Gabriella Crespi sale, PIASA will be publishing Timeless – a monograph of her work by Anne Bony, authoress of numerous books on Design, retracing the career of the Italian Designer and, over and beyond her career, outlining her inspiration, spirit and style. Books published alongside major themed sales by PIASA Editions will offer a powerful record of 20th and 21st century creativity.


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– Imagery from the Gabriella Crespi archives and PIASA – 





L’ELEGANZA DEL DESIGN: GABRIELLA CRESPI (PART 1)





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.







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”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

 















stools

stools

 

vitrine coffee table





















Aerin Lauder's NYC dressing room

Aerin Lauder’s NYC dressing room

 































sconce

sconce

vase

frames




vase

vase

 

 



letter tray

letter tray

 

 

candlesticks

 
























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…






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