Pietro Chiesa - Design London Friday, June 19, 2020 | Phillips

Create your first list.

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

  • Provenance

    Spada family, Buenos Aires

  • Literature

    Roberto Aloi, L'Arredamento Moderno, Terza serie, Milan, 1948, fig. 342
    Franco Deboni, Fontana Arte: Gio Ponti, Pietro Chiesa, Max Ingrand, Turin, 2012, fig. 186

  • Catalogue Essay

    Designed by Pietro Chiesa during the 1930s, the present illuminated drinks cabinet embraces a modernist visual language emphasising a ‘purity of line’ and an organic, curvilinear hand-crafted form. Chiesa experimented with the aesthetic and technical possibilities of mirrored sheet glass, requiring sophisticated processing techniques to produce the curved form, which he elegantly combined in the present example with the more traditional burr walnut-veneered wood, providing the cabinet’s structure. The juxtaposition and surface effects created by the mirrored glass doors and burr walnut frame, which are mounted on a black-painted base, unite decoration and form. The present work retains only a subtle reference to classical ornamentation, illustrated by the scalloped detail inside the cabinet. In addition to the curved glass doors, the top of the cabinet is hinged, together opening to reveal a theatre-like interior. This unexpected architectural feature, combined with the use of burr walnut-veneer, is reminiscent of the work of Chiesa’s close friend and collaborator, the architect Gio Ponti.

    In March 1949, Ponti dedicated an extensive article in Domus to the work of Chiesa, following the Milanese designer’s death the previous year. Describing a series of ‘Mobili Essenziali’, which comprised mirrored glass table and cabinet designs, Ponti wrote that, 'In these works Pietro Chiesa has achieved … that 'essentiality' in which the lines are ‘pulled' to their most absolute expression and do not require any additions or modifications' (Gio Ponti, 'L'opera di Pietro Chiesa', Domus, no. 234, March 1949, pp. 34, 38). The present cabinet illustrates a duality in Chiesa’s work, uniting semi-industrial production and artisan craftsmanship, creating a work that is essential in its form whilst nevertheless retaining a certain playfulness.


Rare illuminated drinks cabinet, model no. 1094

circa 1936
Mirrored glass, burr walnut-veneered wood, painted wood, glass, brass.
97.6 x 99.3 x 41.2 cm (38 3/8 x 39 1/8 x 16 1/4 in.)
Manufactured by Fontana Arte, Milan, Italy. Inside of each door incised with manufacturer's mark FX.

£30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for £43,750

Contact Specialist

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


London Auction 19 June 2020