Taking over from Pietro Chiesa as the artistic director of FontanaArte in 1954, Max Ingrand would lead the Italian design house to previously unseen frontiers, setting the artistic tone which defines the company to this day.
Riding the wave of the economic boom of the post-war, the company, founded twenty-two years earlier by Gio Ponti, would come to define an epoch in modern design, spearheaded by innovation and natural forms. With a background as a master glazier and designer, Ingrand revolutionised the production by experimentally fusing classical ideas of glass manufacture, with the liberated design language of the era. One of his earliest conceptions, the Fontana table lamp - designed in 1954 - became an instant classic and is still manufactured by the company today. This, however, was only the beginning for Ingrand, whose designs grew more organic and bolder throughout his tenure.
Working alongside a team of specially recruited apprentices, craftsmen, and engineers, their artistic vision continuously sought to push the materials used to the extent of their capabilities. This saw a phasing out of wood and Bakelite in favour of metals and glass, materials in which he saw greater creative potential. Gone also were the straight lines and precision of his predecessors in favour of more natural shapes, allowing the material to dictate form, and not vice versa. Ingrand famously referred to glass as an ideal complement to light, and by working with thicker glass than any of his predecessors, his designs stand out as almost sculptural with their organic flowing forms, as seen clearly in this extraordinary ‘Model 1748’ ceiling light.
A Fontana Arte ‘Model 1748’ ceiling light, designed by Max Ingrand for Fontana Arte in 1957, with hand bevelled and etched glass shade, with a lacquered waisted cylindrical mount, 55cm wide 40cm high £6,000 - 8,000
Featuring a tapering brass stem, the focus is on the shade which appears sprawled at the base. The shade in turn is partially acid etched to diffuse the light coming through, sections chipped beneath the light sources allowing them to reflect throughout the rough surface. This highly advanced system of refraction lies surprisingly close to Ingrand’s origins as a stained glass artist. Following the end of the Second World War, he worked diligently on multiple churches and cathedrals across France, restoring the stained glass windows destroyed in the antecedent years.
The Design Department at Sworders are extremely proud to be able to offer for sale this extraordinary piece by one of Modern Design’s foremost visionaries, whose work not only set the tone for FontanaArte, but lighting design in general.
We consign iconic mid-century lighting for all our annual Design sales.
To discuss an appraisal, please contact the department today -
John Black - email@example.com | 01279 817778
Otto Billström - firstname.lastname@example.org | 01279 817778
Our next Design auction on July 13 will include a dedicated section devoted to photography. Providing the impetus to the new focus is the consignment of a very fine collection of photographs by important 20th century American and European photographers.
Otto Billström joined our Design Department in January this year and believes his Scandinavian heritage aided his appreciation of 20th century design. Let's find out more about him...