Exclusive interview with iconic designer Barnaba Fornasetti

You’ll have seen the iconic works of the house of Fornasetti. That print of the coy face, or just the lips, or perhaps a hand, has been one of the most popular design motifs of recent years, having been big at Liberty in 2006 and then picked up everywhere else, most notably at Milk Boutique in East London. The brand has been producing work since the 1950s, but it’s only under the new direction of the original Fornasetti’s son, Barnaba, that it has become so well known. ACHICA Living catches up with Barnaba for an exclusive chat about good design, Greek architecture and Italian irony…
Why do you think Fornasetti products have become so popular in recent years?

Because Fornasetti is both modern and contemporary, but also traditional – it crosses the divide perfectly. Fornasetti has always been there, but times and culture are changing, and now it represents the kind of things that stimulate the pleasure of life, the desire we have for good quality design.

Fornasetti designs focus on the human body. Why is that so fascinating?

It goes back to the Greek period, which used the shapes of the body in architecture. The human form is very beautiful, and life is so difficult today with all the economic problems it’s important to have some aesthetics, some food for the soul. Good design helps us in this grey, grey world.

What’s next for the brand?

I’ve just created a home fragrance, which was a really interesting challenge, and I did it with the same man who created Chanel Number Five. He understood my feeling and space, and everyone loves the fragrance. I don’t want to do any more perfumes though, there are already too many on the market and I don’t want to be like everyone else.

What tips do you have for making pattern work at home?

Fornasetti works well with different styles, with both antique and with modern, making it easy to put it in any house.  As with any pattern, it’s perfect in a minimalistic design situation because then it looks very strong and comes out, it gives character and identity to a space. Plain white rooms are very dull, so use bold prints to add character – that’s the Italian version of irony.

Barnaba Fornasetti photo by Hugh Findletar

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Pip McCormac, Guest Editor

View all posts by Pip McCormac, Guest Editor