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.