The List #07

by Antonella Dedini

design for love The List 07 by antonella dedini Design italy


All About Love

Tracey Emin, You Saved Me, Love exhibition, ​​Chiostro del Bramante

Tracey Emin, You Saved Me, Love exhibition, ​​Chiostro del Bramante, Rome, 2018

On 14 February 1400, the High Court of Love, inspired by the principles of courtly love, was established in France and was the first court to officially work towards the defence of women. It handled marital disputes, betrayals, and the violence often perpetrated on women, whether mothers, wives or daughters. It also had jurisdiction over disputes between lovers and between separated couples, making it very much ahead of the times. Unfortunately, little use has been made of it since, and violence against women continues even in today’s society.

So, this year, let’s see Valentine’s Day not only as a day to celebrate the Christian martyr Valentine of Terni – patron saint of lovers who secretly officiated Christians marriages at a time when this was not allowed – but as a celebration of love. As a celebration of passion and respect for one’s partner and with whom we have decided to share our lives for now, or forever.

And in keeping with this theme, this month’s The List is all about objects and works of art and design about love.


LOVE art installation in Japan by Robert Indiana

Robert Indiana, Love, USA, 1964

This is perhaps one of the best known works of art worldwide as it is not only a protagonist of American pop art, but also because of the immediate message it portrays.

Robert Indiana, with his colourful and incisive graphics, made extensive use of advertising and its languages. He used fonts that are familiar and reassuring to create visual concepts and clear messages. His work is made up of phrases, and “sculptural poems” as he called them, respecting the written word as a medium for social messages which must be preserved over time.

In his works, Indiana used images linked to contemporary visual art as much as possible so that the contents of his works could be absorbed, transforming the message into a work of art and vice versa.

Love is one of Indiana’s most famous pieces and was commissioned by MoMA in 1964 for a Christmas card.


brooch with Tristan and Isolde profiles - Salvador Dalì, created by Carlos Alemany

Salvador Dalì, Tristan and Isolde, created by workshop of Carlos Alemany, USA, circa 1944

This surrealist brooch was created by one of the most daring and eclectic minds in art history. Salvador Dalì was inspired by the legend of Tristan and Isolde in creating a stunning piece of jewellery with a message about love. The brooch shows the profiles of two lovers that form a cup, which in turn represents a possible abundance of love between a man and a woman.


Salvador Dalì, Tristan and Isolde, created by workshop of Carlos Alemany


Dalì created the sets for the ballet Mad Tristan to the music of Richard Wagner in 1944 and was particularly impressed by the intense passion of the story and the music. In those years, thanks primarily to his love for his muse, Gala, he began designing jewellery, including this magnificent brooch. His series of drawings and jewellery in gold and precious stones were created with master goldsmith Carlos Alemany between the 1940s and 1970s, and they offer us the opportunity to dive into his special imagination, where love was a controversial feeling.


Salvador Dalì, Tristan and Isolde, created by workshop of Carlos Alemany,  USA


Love at all costs, because love is not love if it is not desire as well as suffering. As Thomas Mann used to say: true love is a realm of emotions in antithesis to reason.

Dalì said the following about his jewellery: “My goal is to show the art of jewellery in its true meaning. Design and craftsmanship should cost more than precious stones and metals”.




La Venere tatuata statue by Fabio Viale in Turin Italy


Fabio Viale, La Venere tatuata, Turin, Italy, 2016




This sculpture is an ode to women and to Venus de Milo, an emblem of beauty and sensuality. This sculpture, tattooed with fragments of The Triumph of Death to symbolise the horror of reality as opposed to the ideal of beauty, is a contemporary interpretation of a myth that should be remembered and modernised.


Viale borrows from classicism without emulating it, instead creating new experiments to narrate the extraordinary, going beyond the ordinary. For Viale, the tattoos that decorate Venus’ back are a way of highlighting the seductive forms of the statue’s body, creating a surprising association between classical and modest beauty, and unexpected and provocative beauty.






Mae West face by Salvator Dalì

Salvador Dalì, Mae West, Spagna 1935

Salvador Dalí wanted art to be part of all aspects of life. He became interested in furniture thanks to his friend, interior designer Jean Michel Frank. Between 1934 and 1935 he worked on a portrait in gouache on a photograph of actress Mae West when, at a certain point, a vision led him to imagine the surrealist space of a flat on her face. He turned her blond curls into a doorway, her eyes into paintings, her nose into a fireplace, and her lips into a sofa.

radical Studio65 black lips piercing sofa

It was such a provocative and sensual piece that British patron Edward James requested a full-scale, three-dimensional version. Frank also commissioned five more for his wealthy clients and one even in “shocking pink” for the lipstick launched by fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.

And we can’t forget that in 1970, the sofa became a pop icon redesigned by radical group Studio65 for Gufram.

radical Studio65 red lips sofa inspired by Salvator Dalì


silver spoons in Metamorphose Spoons art by Alexa Lixfeld

Alexa Lixfeld, Metamorphose Spoons, Germany, 2010

silver spoon in Metamorphose Spoons by Alexa Lixfeld



This installation is a story about change and comprises thirteen different pieces of silverware that undergo a transformation. Similar to embryos, the pieces turn into spoons (females) or into forks (males).


But it is precisely the transformation that is the most interesting aspect. In observing them, it is not yet possible to define their sex, hence their function. All this is told through form.

Metamorphose is about the becoming of something: how does a spoon become a fork? When is it still a spoon and when is it already a fork? When is it male and when is it female? Talking about the sexes through cutlery as a metaphor is fascinating.

silver spoon in Metamorphose Spoons by Alexa Lixfeld


Piero Fornasetti, Adamo ed Eva, Italy, 1950; 2000 remake by Atelier Fornasetti

This series of porcelain plates decorated with gold, with the recognisable techniques and details typical of Fornasetti’s work, together compose an artistic portrayal of the bodies of Adam and Eve.

white and gold plates set Adamo ed Eva by Piero Fornasetti remake by Atelier Fornasetti

On 21 October 1988, an article in the NY Times written by Suzanne Slesin reported the death of the great artist. In the description of some of his works, the collection of Adam and Eve plates, each showing a different part of the human body, was defined as both controversial and decorative. In fact, never was there a better double adjective for Fornasetti, as he was certainly a great aesthete and loved beauty, but was also an artist who enjoyed being a provocateur.

Fornasetti’s objects are multiples. His son Barnaba Fornasetti, who has been the artistic director of the Milanese design atelier for over thirty years, has created an international brand that is known for its craftsmanship, art and design.


Carlo Mollino, Venus mirror, Casa Miller, Turin, Italy, 1938

Venus mirror by Carlo Mollino by Casa Miller Italy, 1938




In Casa Miller, Mollino reveals his originality as a decorator: he skilfully transcends the functionalist schematics of the time without falling into overdone styles. His ingenuity is plain to see in a house conceived as a sort of place “made up of walls and objects, shapes and spaces”, where each one is part of “a well-crafted script” (Carlo Levi, Domus).



Each object refers to something like mirrors with their infinite allusions. He created, more than twenty years ahead of his time, that architecture of persuasion typical of American theatricality in the 1960s.



His rendition of the Venus de Milo’s profile as a mirror is a break from conventional mirror shapes, adopting and using the much more sensual forms of the iconic statue representing the divinity. The mirror in turn reflects, in a connected narrative, objects that are erotically portrayed in sensual female forms.



Pictured in the last image is the mirror, now called Milo and produced by Zanotta.







Verner Panton, Heart Cone Chair, Switzerland, 1958, for Vitra

In the 1950s, Verner Panton, a Danish designer with a functionalist background, was swept away by an unexpected revolution in aesthetics and thinking that was ahead of the subsequent decades of pop art. He had a huge influence on pop art, from objects to home furnishings to fashion, and was anything but minimal Scandinavian design. He took Walt Disney’s motto, “if you can dream it, you can do it”, to heart, experimenting with shapes, colours and new materials, creating innovative ideas of space for homes and offices.

front and side of Heart Cone Chair by Verner Panton for Vitra

He imagined and created fantastic pieces of furniture: chairs hanging from the ceiling, swivelling and adjustable in height, as well as unusual seating shapes like the famous Panton Chair, which could only be created with new technologies. The Heart Cone Chair, a contemporary development of the bergère armchair, is all red and is in the reassuring and comforting shape of a heart.


Ettore Sottsass, Ultrafragola, Mobili Grigi series, Poltronova, Italy, 1970

This mirror was inspired by Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, as also shown by its size (100cm by 195cm): a large door that you can walk through, and a tribute to femininity.

mirror-ultrafragola-with lamp-by-ettore-sottsass-for-poltronova

This piece was the only one of the series to go into production, and very few of the others were made for exhibitions or private collections. This is how Sottsass described his Mobili Grigi (Grey Furniture) project: “rounded and swollen forms (forever), forms of feminine origin perhaps or – if you like – of religious origin (which is the same thing)”.

This is a collection of furniture designed not to be merely functional, but objects that embrace a strong emotional component that conveys messages and symbols.

This mirror was presented for the first time by Poltronova in 1970 for Eurodomus 3, a forerunner of the event that would later become the now-famous Salone del Mobile in Milan.


Shiva flower vase by Ettore Sottsass BD Barcelona Design

Ettore Sottsass, Shiva flower vase, BD Barcelona Design, 1973




“I continue to produce small, small, small architectures, such as this ceramic piece, for example, a little like monuments, a little like tombs, a little like the abandoned temples of the gods, a little like the ruins of the ancient and unknown civilization in which something, the say, was known; it is said that they understood the axes, the curves, the intersections, perhaps even the causation of the courses of the cosmic bodies, along which each day slide the private vertices of the atoms that make up our fragile flesh and blood”.

Ettore Sottsass




Ingo Maurer, One from the Heart, Germany, 1989, prod. I.M.

Ingo Maurer was called the poet of light and the genius of design and was visionary and unpredictable. At every Salone del Mobile in Milan, I remember that I couldn’t wait to see his new collection of lamps at Spazio Krizia in Via Senato. He always managed to be surprising and innovative.

The 1990s were wonderful years, and there weren’t many geniuses like him. He was among the first to produce his own works and he walked the line between being an artist who created unique pieces of art and finding balance and materials to create more industrial designs.

One from the Heart by Ingo Maurer prod. I.M.

He eventually decided to produce his own pieces, experimenting with light and being free to let his imagination run wild. He created beautiful lamps, which are sculptures of light that will never fade. In Italy, he was awarded the Compasso d’oro Career Award in 2011.

This bedside lamp was designed as a wedding gift for a couple of friends. Red and blue threads are knotted and entwined, creating a promise of eternal love. While a heart-shaped mirror projects its shape onto the wall, two small crocodiles lurk at the base of the lamp.



LOVe cabinet in red by Fabio Novembre, Driade

Fabio Novembre, LOVe cabinet in red, Driade, Italy.

“Love is choosing each other, shrouded in an aura of mystery. Love is a faithful guardian of shared dreams, a space for possibilities”, said Fabio Novembre.

This bright red sideboard is a two-dimensional manifesto dedicated to love, and where the letters of the word accompany you as you open its doors.

This is a stunning storage unit, but also a beautiful space where we can store the things we love. That is what Fabio Novembre’s designs are all about: contamination, sensuality, empathy, and functionality.



Driade Lab, Ercole e Afrodite storage units, Driade, 2021

Anthropomorphism is an ancient art that traces its meaning back to the Greek word ánthrōpos, man, and morphē, form. Before taking on a central role in Vitruvius’ architecture, it dominated archaic cultures, where buildings reflected anthropomorphic symbolism by replicating figures and measurements derived from the observation of the human body.

Ercole e Afrodite storage units Driade Lab by Driade, 2021

In modern times and in design, there have been unforgettable iconic works by artists like Salvador Dalì, Carlo Mollino, Piero Fornasetti, Gaetano Pesce, Alessandro Mendini, Ettore Sottsass and Fabio Novembre to name but a few of the great designers who have experimented with the wonders of the human body.

A cross between art and design, this is a trend and a common thread between designers who decide to experiment with new forms with a playful or provocative feel, experimenting with the human body and its parts. They magnify the body’s features and details, giving it a magical and ancestral dimension thanks to a blend of classical and pop languages.


Fabio Novembre, Him & Her, Casamania, Italy, 2008

This list certainly could not leave out this piece.

Him & Her by Fabio Novembre Casamania

Inspired by the passage in Genesis in the Bible where God creates man and woman, Fabio Novembre assigned male and female sexes to these two seats, which are reminiscent of the iconic Panton Chair designed by Verner Panton in 1959.

Him & Her by Fabio Novembre Casamania

In the original model, the designer distinguished between male and female thanks to the two different buttocks imprints. These naked bodies were “sculpted” in such a realistic and unashamed way that we can almost feel their erotic pathos.

They’re downright iconic.


Ron Arad, Soft Heart, Moroso, Italy, 1991

In 1989, I had just joined the editorial staff as a young apprentice for the magazine Ottagono and was (daringly) sent to London to interview Israeli-born architect Ron Arad in his design studio One Off.

In his visionary space, he designed non-conformist handcrafted furniture, mainly in welded steel plates, that had never-before-seen sculptural forms. I felt like the luckiest person in the world to have that fantastic job and I tried, even if I was inexperienced, to bring as much as possible from that experience back to Milan, including my chat with the designer that allowed me to understand that “form follows function” is a very debatable axiom. I also learned that there would soon be a constructive dialogue between contemporary art and industrial design.

red Soft Heart by Ron Arad,  Moroso 1991

Ron Arad’s research soon combined with Moroso’s skills, and this armchair, which is the evolution of the famous The Big Easy steel armchair designed in 1988, is the result.

Soft Heart is a game of changing volumes, going from an armchair to a heart, from a heart to an armchair, and experiments with forms using new materials.


Giulio Iacchetti, Anellove Ring, Cyrcus

This 3D printed ring can be customised with the letters of the two lovers’ names we want to immortalise, making it the perfect gift for a birthday or Valentine’s Day.

Anellove Ring, Giulio Iacchetti, by Cyrcus

Cyrcus is a movement/company that was founded by designer Denis Santachiara and relies on digital fabrication to produce its designs. Creating, producing, exchanging and consuming design thus takes on new, unprecedented and truly sustainable forms. Cyrcus has transformed the language of design, making its products in precious metals and prized materials like gold, silver, marble, steel and aluminium while using 3D printing, laser and CNC technologies, which facilitate the creation of complex shapes that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to make using traditional techniques.


Alessandro Mendini, Anna G corkscrew, Alessi, 1994, Italy

Anna G corkscrew by Alessandro Mendini by Alessi,


This bright and colourful corkscrew is a design icon that has inspired other designs. Mendini dedicated the gadget to his friend and colleague Anna Gili, whom Mendini captured perfectly with her characteristic bob. Mendini made very few changes to the original design we all know and love and which can be found in many kitchens.


Designed by Dominick Rosati in 1928, it has two handles and screws, and has undergone very few changes over time except for the addition of the bottle opener at the top. The winning feature is the central body that has an Archimedes screw that penetrates the cork and has an easy-to-turn top. The entire piece was designed to create as little damage as possible to the cork. By levering the two handles, the cork pops out.


After 1880, corks began to be used to seal bottles (animal skin jars, ceramic or glass jugs, and wooden barrels had previously been used, and once opened were no longer good for storing wine). From then until 1930, more than 300 corkscrew patents were registered. The one designed by Alessandro Mendini is by far the sweetest and most original one.


Marco de Masi, Bino & Bina salt and pepper shakers, Cyrcus Design, Italy


Bino & Bina salt and pepper shakers by Marco de Masi, Cyrcus Design


Leonardo da Vinci said that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

This beautiful, minimal salt and pepper shaker set embodies this concept perfectly.

This is an iconic piece that was 3D printed using digital fabrication processes.