Fontana Arte

Masters of Italian Lighting

The golden era of Fontana Arte’s production began in 1953 and lasted throughout the decade. During these years, a combination of unique and favorable conditions coalesced: the post-war atmosphere was focused on reconstruction; Securit della Saint Gobain produced thicker plates of glass than ever before; a notable number of artisans, workers and designers were united at Fontana Arte, something Pietro Chiesa had always desired.

Lighting designs for Fontana Arte exhibited at Les Salon des Artistes Decorateurs, Paris, 1955. (Exhibition photograph by Jean Collas, Archives Michel Durand. Reproduced from Max Ingrand: Du Verre à la Lumière by Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, 2009, Éditions NORMA)

Materials and technology were changing and new and innovative forms were the result. Fontana Arte’s masters and designers no longer used "dalle" glass for only tables; lamps too were made of thick glass. Brass also was used in abundance during these years. The metal was softened and shaped by hand to align perfectly with the delicately ground edges of the glass forms. Fontana Arte’s artisanal production highlighted the expertise and craftsmanship in both metalworking and glassmaking techniques.

Max Ingrand was the artistic director at Fontana Arte at this time. He spoke only French and often his directions were left to the translation and vision of the artists such as Raimondi, Rizza, Vianello and Dubé. Many important designs were produced under Ingrand’s direction, but the nature of collaboration makes it difficult to confirm authorship.

Visions of Italian Design

For more than 20 years Ugo Alfano Casati has been bringing fresh and interesting modern and contemporary Italian design to market. From rare and custom works by Italy’s most notable architects to classic forms and more recent limited edition works from the most radical and forward thinking minds, Casati’s vision of Italian Design is one of quality, beauty and historical significance. 

An Italian himself, Casati grew up in Milan. He worked for Alessi and Bodum in Paris before relocating to Chicago where he opened Casati Gallery to bring Italian design to the American market. He focused on Italian designs of the post-war era to present day, developing relationships with artists, designers, foundations and archives, adding valuable context and introducing new scholarship in the field alongside his elegant offerings. 

In 2007, Casati and Wright teamed together to create a book dedicated to the designs of Angelo Mangiarotti. The award-winning publication, featured full-color images and was published in English and Italian introducing the innovative designer to the broader market. 

Casati’s interest in fine craftsmanship and originality soon grew to include emerging design and he began to produce editions by makers whose aesthetics complimented his Italian sensibility: Jonathan Nesci, Philippe Nigro, among others. 

This special curated auction celebrates Casati Gallery and marks the beginning of Casati Projects, a new phase for Ugo Alfano Casati who endeavors to bring renewed energy and experience to the field of Italian design through curatorial and consulting services for discerning collectors and institutions across the globe.