Carlo Mollino - Design London Thursday, May 12, 2022 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • The present chair was designed by architect Carlo Mollino for Casa Colonna in Turin as part of a bespoke commission. The order included a large cabinet with five doors, a six-person dining table, six chairs and four coat hangers. This set of furniture was impeccably made by local artisans Apelli e Varesio, who were entrusted with executing Mollino’s most important projects. The cabinetmakers developed the pieces in mahogany, ash, and walnut: ‘noble’ wood types that reveal the importance of this specific order which, according to its original quote, were ready for delivery by February 1954.

    This rare design displays an innovative leg-crossbar structure that prevents oscillations and strengthens the piece in a technically perfect way. This continuous leg-crossbar solution is a recurrent feature in Mollino’s work; he also adopted it in a similar pair of chairs, now lost, made instead with a simple plywood backrest and seat.

    The supports of this model are hollowed out to lighten their visual weight and are elegantly finished with a rounded edge, using the a coltello process. The architect pays particular attention to varying the design of the sections that make up the wooden uprights, strengthening them where necessary and lightening them towards the edges. The significant size of the backrest gives the chair a particularly refined aspect.

    By Fulvio Ferrari, Author and Director of the Museo Casa Mollino, Turin


    The Apelli e Varesio workshop in Turin Photo: Riccardo Moncalvo, © Archivio Riccardo Moncalvo Torino.
    The Apelli e Varesio workshop in Turin
    Photo: Riccardo Moncalvo © Archivio Riccardo Moncalvo Torino
    • Provenance

      Casa Colonna, Turin
      Cambi, Milan, ‘Fine Design’, 22 November 2017, lot 41
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Fulvio Ferrari and Napoleone Ferrari, The Furniture of Carlo Mollino, New York, 2006, p. 114 for a copy of the original order quote, p. 115
      Fulvio Ferrari and Napoleone Ferrari, eds., Carlo Mollino: Arabesques, exh. cat., Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Milan, 2007, p. 106

    • Catalogue Essay

      The present model chair is registered in the archive of the Museo Casa Mollino, Turin as number CM 156-1.

    • Artist Biography

      Carlo Mollino

      Italian • 1905 - 1973

      Carlo Mollino made sexy furniture. His style may have grown out of the whiplash curves of Art Nouveau, but the sinuous lines of his furniture were more humanoid than vegetal, evoking arched backs and other body parts. Mollino was also an avid aviator, skier and racecar driver — he designed his own car for Le Mans. His love of speed and danger comes across in his designs, which MoMA curator Paola Antonelli has described as having "frisson."

      Mollino had no interest in industrial design and the attendant constraints of material costs and packaging. His independent wealth allowed him to pick and choose projects, resulting in an oeuvre of unique, often site-specific works that were mostly executed by the Turin joinery firm Apelli & Varesio. Apart from a coffee table that he designed in 1950 for the American company Singer & Sons, his furniture never went into production. Notwithstanding the support of Gio Ponti, Mollino's design contemporaries largely dismissed him as an eccentric outsider. However, the combination of scarcity (Mollino only made several hundred works in his lifetime), exquisite craftsmanship and idiosyncratic "frisson" has rightly placed Carlo Mollino in the highest tier of twentieth-century design collecting.

      View More Works


Rare chair, from Casa Colonna, Turin

Walnut, fabric, brass.
95.5 x 38.8 x 56.4 cm (37 5/8 x 15 1/4 x 22 1/4 in.)
Executed by Apelli & Varesio, Turin, Italy.

Full Cataloguing

£40,000 - 60,000 Ω

Sold for £94,500

Contact Specialist

Antonia King

Head of Sale, Design
+44 20 7901 7944


London Auction 12 May 2022