Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Design History:
Gabriella Crespi: Architecture & Disco

So, I know that all my design history posts seem to be focused on the same period, but I can’t help that I am drawn to this period so much. I promise that I will be more thoughtful in my attempt to diversify, but if you read the November issue of Elle Décor’s article on Willy Rizzo, you will see that I am not alone in my obsession with the lead designers of the 70s and 80s.

Today’s pictures are of Gabriella Crespi’s furniture and accessory designs. Throughout her career as a designer she designed lamps, silverware and jewelry, in a huge range of materials, from metal, wood, marble and bamboo to seeds, shells and gemstones. Produced mainly in the 1960's and 70's, her creations graced some of the most elegant homes in the world. Elizabeth Arden ''fell in love with my designs, and wanted everything in the collection,'' Crespi said recently. Thomas Hoving, Princess Grace, Gunther Sachs and the Shah of Iran were other aficionados.

Today, her furniture and decorative objects are beginning to bring high prices, as the design world turns its focus from mid-century to late twentieth century.

The multifunctionality of her furniture is a Crespi trademark. She made coffee tables that rose to dining height, bookcases that became room dividers, seating that converted into beds. This is due, no doubt, to her architectural studies at the Politecnico Institute in Milan. ''I was in love with Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright when I was young,'' she said. Le Corbusier, happens to be my second favorite all-time architect and his aesthetic has heavily influenced my eye, so it is no wonder that Crespi’s furniture is right up my alley.

She was born in Milan in 1922, and raised in Tuscany near Florence. She met her husband, Giuseppe Maria Crespi, at a tennis club in Milan. They were married in 1948. The Crespi family is one of the richest families in Italy. Gabriella Crespi is currently 86 and lives in the Himalayas where she studies with a spiritual guide and attempts to live in silence. 

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