Renzo Zavanella - Important Design London Wednesday, October 17, 2018 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Private collection, Milan

  • Literature

    'Viaggiare per guardare', Domus, no. 229, August 1948, pp. 8-9 for a similar example
    'Plastica o mobili', Domus, no. 249, January 1950, pp. 64-67 for a similar example
    Roberto Aloi, Esempi Di Arredamento Moderno Di Tutto Il Mondo, sale da pranzo, Milan, 1953, figs. 104-06 for a similar example

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present pair of armchairs, designed by the Mantuan architect Renzo Zavanella, synthesises his experimentation with new technical forms and his affinity for traditional craftsmanship. Zavanella, who began his career working in the studio of Gio Ponti and Emilio Lancia, designed unique works for each of his projects, which were characterised by his search for expressive forms and a three-dimensional sculptural quality. Notably, after seeing Zavanella’s lounge chairs for the Salone dell’Hotel a San Remo (1949), Ponti asked whether the designs were executed in fabric or in plastic. Zavanella’s furniture designs for the hotel lounge were enriched by a classical-inspired mural painted in gold, pink and periwinkle by Lucio Fontana, who was a close friend and collaborator of the architect.

    As demonstrated in the present lot, Zavanella’s work is also greatly influenced by his ergonomic studies for train seating. Whilst the armchairs’ low seat and high narrow back are characteristic of Zavanella’s seating designs of the late 1940s and 1950s, their dynamic form supported by three legs and their curved headrest closely relate to the architect’s studies for Officine Meccaniche (O.M.) railcar seating. At the 1948 Milan Fair Zavanella exhibited a new railcar travelling from Milan to San Remo, presenting to the public train travel of increased speed and comfort. The wide seat and curved shape of the railcar’s seating, which Zavanella applied to the present armchairs, allowed the sitter greater flexibility, reflecting a new period of optimism in post-war Italy.


Pair of rare armchairs

Fabric, walnut.
Each: 114.4 x 77.5 x 81.8 cm (45 x 30 1/2 x 32 1/4 in.)
Together with a certificate of expertise from the Renzo Zavanella Archive.

£18,000 - 24,000 

Sold for £35,000

Contact Specialist
Madalena Horta E Costa
Head of Sale
+44 20 7318 4019

Important Design

London Auction 18 October 2018