Over the course of his career, Piero Fornasetti created more than 300 variations on the theme of a single face—that of soprano Lina Cavalieri, the inspiration behind his iconic Tema e Variazioni series. It makes sense, then, that the work of the exuberant Milanese studio remains ripe for reinvention some three decades after its founder’s death. Now, Fornasetti’s signature intaglio style is ready to be revisited yet again with Senza Tempo, a new collection of wallpaper from Cole & Son launching in the U.S. this fall.
The collection, which includes 19 designs—four brand-new patterns, along with updated colorways for classic designs—marks the fourth collaborative partnership between Fornasetti and Cole & Son, the nearly 150-year-old British wallpaper maker. The collection’s name, Senza Tempo, pays homage to its timeless appeal. It's a fitting move, Cole & Son Artistic Director Carley Bean explains to AD PRO: “Piero Fornasetti said he did not believe ‘in eras and dates’ and strenuously refused ‘labels’ and categories, letting creativity flow freely beyond the boundaries of discipline and time.”
Since the first Cole & Son collaboration with Fornasetti in 2007, each collection has begun with a trip to the Casa Fornasetti and archive of the brand. “It is a designer’s dream,” says Bean. “From the research, we then define the key themes or design stories we’d like to explore, and we start sketching out design ideas.” In this case, the Cole & Son design team chose to reinterpret vintage Fornasetti designs into new wallpaper patterns like Bastioni (a cane motif once printed on a silk scarf), Cocktails (adapted from a 1950s ice bucket), and Arance (oranges used on a 1950s tray and a 1990s fabric).
“The scale and placement are vital to ensure designs work as wallpapers. Something originally designed for an ice bucket or silk scarf will be very different to how a design needs to work for a wallpaper,” Bean explains. “We normally trial anywhere from 250 to 500 colorings for a collection of around 15 designs.”
"I chose this collection the way an author would choose his best stories,” Barnaba Fornasetti, the brand’s artistic director and Piero’s son, tells AD PRO. “I compiled a timeless set of images in order to create an anthology intended to last forever."
Senza Tempo also includes the new Libreria, which riffs on a colorful collector’s library, filled with leather-bound books and design objects. Patterns Nuvole (featuring clouds), Macchine Volanti (with flying machines), and Procuratie (one of three intaglio-inspired architectural studies) were reinvigorated with new monochromatic interpretations, while Riflesso and Malachite were updated using metallic detailing technology not available when the first collaboration launched in 2007.
“We look for partners who share our passion for creative exploration, artistic design, and impeccable craftsmanship,” Bean says of Cole & Son’s collaborations, including the brand’s ongoing partnership with Fornasetti. “There’s always an element of the unexpected in our designs.”
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest