Tomaso Buzzi at Venini

Tomaso Buzzi’s designs for Venini tend to fall into two categories: the surreal and the minimal. Buzzi’s surrealist pieces were largely inspired by the maverick architect, designer and publisher Gio Ponti, a close friend of Buzzi’s, who was a proponent of the surrealist style vis-a-vis Italian cultural and historic motifs. Buzzi’s minimalist work was inspired by Carlo Scarpa who, during Buzzi’s brief tenure, was also employed at Venini. Classical shapes drawn from Chinese ceramics were the inspiration for many of these designs, including the vase presented here. In this piece we see the use of Buzzi’s innovative Laguna glass atop a pale amber Incamiciato foot. This particular vase is one of only two known.

Period drawing , c. 1933–1935
Drawing from Venini Blue Pages, 1931–1935

Tomaso Buzzi 1900–1981

Born in Sondrio in 1900, Tomaso Buzzi became interested in art, design and craftsmanship at an early age. He studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, and soon after graduation began his career designing interiors, creating theatrical stage sets and costumes, and doing graphic design for books and magazines. In 1927, he was one of the original founders of the influential Il Labirinto group along with Paolo Venini, Gio Ponti, Pietro Chiesa, Carla Visconti di Modrone, Emilio Lancia, and others. The aim of Il Labirinto was to “promote modern design for the home”. In 1932 he became art director at Venini, and though his tenure only lasted until 1934, his influence had a lasting impact on the company. From 1930 to 1950 he taught architecture in Milan, and also devoted himself to artistic and functional design, working with lighting, furniture, silver, ceramics and iron. In the 1950s, Buzzi’s tastes moved away from Modernism and back towards Neo-Classicism, his first aesthetic love. By the end of the 1950s he dedicated himself almost entirely to painting, and only occasionally took on private commissions. He died in Rapallo, Genoa, in 1981.

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