Everyone can make things complicated. Very few are capable of making things simple.

Bruno Munari

Danese: An Archetype

Designs from 1957–1978

The Italian firm Danese stands as one of the most influential companies in the history of design. Founded in 1957 by Bruno Danese and Jacqueline Vodoz, it was conceived to connect culture and industry and to bring art into the everyday.

Danese installation at a fair in Frankfurt Germany, c. 1973. Image via Danese Milano; Danese in Jack Lenor Larsen's shop, New York City, 1977. Image via Danese Milano

According to the company’s manifesto, their story “is a narration of material culture, suggested functions, discreet pedagogies and practical beauty.” With an emphasis on quality craftsmanship, forms born out of function and materiality, and details that are always essential, Danese is known around the globe for its production of timeless design, art and objects.

Danese’s success can largely be attributed to the philosophies and creations of Enzo Mari and Bruno Munari—Mari, known for asserting that “Form is everything” and his unwavering belief in the accessibility of good design, and Munari for his relentless experimentation with materials and technologies in the pursuit of new modes of visual communication. The result is an astonishing variety of products. From items for the home and office, to games, exhibitions, books and more, the two designers set the company on its course and established the quality and gold standard of Danese production.

By the 1970s, Danese achieved global recognition. The firm was participating in international fairs and exhibitions while opening stores and selling their product around the world, including the United States, France, Japan, etc. The firm paid great attention to the presentation and display of their product aligning themselves more closely with the world of art. And indeed Danese was in the business of selling works of art for the home and office. 

Over the years, many other influential designers—Angelo Mangiarotti, Claudio Boselli, Achille Castiglioni, Matali Crasset, Marco Ferreri, Naoto Fukasawa, Jonathan Olivares, Ron Gilad—would create for Danese, producing enduring and coveted objects for the use, enjoyment and benefit of all. 

Wright is honored to present the first auction dedicated to the influential production of Danese. The selection was amassed by a private European collector who acquired his first piece of Danese design in 1969 and proceeded on a global odyssey purchasing works from Danese stores as he traveled. Most works were obtained near their time of production, though a handful of select pieces were specially sought out and acquired later from private collections. Comprehensive in scope this exceptional collection traverses the first 20 years at Danese and the innovative, playful, and genuine designs of Enzo Mari and Bruno Munari.

This is a recognition of something belonging to art, but also of a quality to be found in things designed in the spirit of truth and made with love.

Vanni Pasca, Danese Catalog October 1990

Bruno Munari

A prolific artist, writer, inventor, architect, illustrator, and titan of design, Bruno Munari is known as one of the greatest protagonists of 20th century art, design, and graphics. Born in Milan, he spent much of his childhood and teenage years in the quaint and rural town of Badia Polesine; this exposure to both city and country life would later become fundamental in the development of his aesthetic. In 1927 at the age of 20, Munari became involved with the Futurist movement, embarking on an over seven-decade-long career which would leave an indelible imprint on the design world.

The Futurists’ focus on progress and modernity was fertile ground for the young Munari, who desired to develop new modes of visual communication. During his association with the Futurist movement, he worked as a graphic designer and an art director, began designing children’s books, and developed his Macchina aerea (Aerial Machine) and Macchine inutili (Useless Machines) both of which exhibited his unique ability to blur the lines between machines, art, and utility. Following World War II, Munari broke with the Futurists due to their proto-Fascist leanings and in 1948 he founded Movimento Arte Concreta (M.A.C.), the Italian movement for concrete art, with Gillo Dorfles, Gianni Monnet and Atanasio Soldati. Over the next decade, prior to the disbanding of M.A.C. in 1958, Munari explored kinetic art, experimented with polarized light, produced several films, and designed countless objects for Italian design companies such as Danese Milano.

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Auction Results Bruno Munari