Mattia Bonetti’s highly unusual furniture and lighting designs, which span the style gamut from surrealism to neo-modernism, are keenly sought after by collectors of innovative limited editions and it’s for this reason that a forthcoming show at David Gill Galleries (running from June 26 to July 31) of new work by the Swiss-born, Paris-based designer is generating ripples of excitement.
The material expression of inner emotions is a territory explored by Bonetti with increasing confidence, and this new collection of 25 pieces (price on application) embraces a variety of materials, including bronze, rock crystal, tufa (volcanic rock), wood and upholstery, which Bonetti sculpts into tables, chairs, sofas, lighting and mirrors in his distinctively maverick manner. Some pieces are one-offs, while others are in limited editions of up to 30.
What unites these apparently diverse designs is a beguiling combination of luxurious materials and imaginative shapes underpinned by fine craftsmanship. Although they are wayward in style, a disciplined functionality sings through pieces from the Bubble-Gum table (second picture) with its looping, spindly legs to the voluptuous Shield chair, whose arms are handmade, painted-wood shields. Many designs are playfully provocative. The curvaceous Roots side table (first picture) has cut-away sides to reveal its wooden “roots”, while the anthropomorphic Torchere appears to raise its arms above its head to provide illumination.
“What’s great is that each piece is an individual artwork with its own personality,” says gallerist David Gill. “Mattia doesn’t repeat forms or material combinations. His work is like a journey in that respect. Every design contains Mattia’s history, ideas – his world.” It’s a richly imagined place that collectors and museum curators are increasingly choosing to inhabit too.