Ico Parisi - Design London Thursday, October 17, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private collection, Como
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    ‘Rassegna Domus – Un tavolo allungabile’, Domus, no. 311, October 1955, illustrated n.p.
    Roberto Aloi, Mobili Tipo, Milan, 1956, illustrated p. 125
    Roberta Lietti, Ico Parisi Catalogue Raisonné, 1936-1960, Milan, 2017, illustrated pp. 282-83

  • Catalogue Essay

    Phillips wishes to thank Roberta Lietti of the Archivio del Design di Ico Parisi for her assistance cataloguing the present lot.

    Ico Parisi - La materia e le forme: due tavoli a confronto

    The present extendable dining table is one of the rare examples of convertible furniture conceived by the architect Ico Parisi. Designed in 1952 for the Como residence of an industrial entrepreneur, the dining table is almost certainly the only convertible furniture design by Parisi, not for serial production and instead executed by a master cabinetmaker at Fratelli Rizzi for a private commission. The dining table’s formal simplicity evokes Nordic design, particularly Danish furniture, which Parisi had admired for its purity of line and craftsmanship at the IX Milan Triennale the previous year. However, Parisi’s incorporation of decorative details, such as the contrast of the alternating walnut and birch layers and beveled shape of the tabletop, distinguishes the present design from its Nordic counterparts. With its distinctively coloured layers of walnut and birch, the tabletop is elegantly emphasised by the chamfered edges which increase in thickness above the legs then narrow to almost nothing in the middle. The unusual elliptical shaped legs, which taper as they reach the floor, further enhances the elegant chromatic chiaroscuro generated by the two different types of wood. The table’s legs are capped with distinctive metal feet, a detail incorporated by Parisi in many of his interior projects.

    The present dining table designed in 1955 by Ico Parisi is part of a small production by Brugnoli Mobili, Cantù that included varied sizes. The table’s angular structure, characterised by an intersection of black-painted tubular iron elements, anticipated the architect’s design of the sofa, model no. 865 for Cassina by three years. The vertical, Y-shaped supports, a modern interpretation of the slender wooden legs recurrent throughout Parisi's furniture designs, intersect with vertical square section segments connecting to a long central crossbar, creating a dynamic articulation of lines. At the corners, an intersecting, oblique beam extends beyond the overall frame through the space between each leg. The diagonal components support an elegant glass table top that appears suspended above the entire structure. The lower oblique sections give the impression to be out of control, ending up firmly slotted in the gap between the two metal section constituting the legs. Finally, Parisi’s unexpected use of walnut arrow-shaped feet masterfully mitigate the rigorous iron frame and glass table top of the present design.

    Two exceptional and very different works, the present dining tables (lots 66 and 67) were both conceived by the same designer within only a few years span. These two distinctive tables: one designed for a family of ancient lineage to gather around; the other, a strong and ultramodern work created for a contemporary interior. One table with gentle rounded lines, the alternating wood evoking layers of fabrics; the other table, with hard edges of glass and metal, supported by a horizontal trellis that expands into the surrounding space. Two opposite choices, two opposite materials and two different technologies, yet united by the same purpose: to get involved, to experiment and to dare. This is the thinking behind the greatest of Parisi, an eclectic father of such imagination.

    Roberta Lietti
    Curator, Archivio del Design di Ico Parisi


Unique extendable dining table

circa 1952
Birch plywood, walnut plywood, walnut, painted metal.
77.5 cm (30 1/2 in.) high, 116 cm (45 5/8 in.) diameter
77.5 x 196.8 x 116.2 cm (30 1/2 x 77 1/2 x 45 3/4 in.) fully extended

Executed by Fratelli Rizzi, Intimiano, Italy.

£10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for £11,250

Contact Specialist
Antonia King
Interim Head of Sale
+44 20 7901 7944


London Auction 17 October 2019