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Mandarina Duck loves: Italian Design Icons

The black and white, classically beautiful face that graces ceramics in the shape of plates, cups, candles and much more is world-famous, but few people know the name of the model.

What most people do know is the brand that makes these enigmatic pieces: Fornasetti.

Piero Fornasetti was a painter, sculptor, interior decorator and book engraver from Milan, who lived and worked from 1913 until 1988.

By a stroke of luck, he found the face of soprano singer Lina Cavalieri in a 19th century magazine. Immediately, her face inspired him to create more than 500 variations of her likeness. “I began to make them and I never stopped”, Fornasetti is quoted as saying.

It was the beginning of the instantly recognizable visual vocabulary of Fornasetti. Under the direction of his son Barnaba, Piero’s creativity with this black and white image has proven both original and open to modernization, something Mandarina Duck feels strongly about.

Through humour, wit and colourful details, such as making the face wink, adding floral headdress or even making her look like a Charlie Chaplin in disguise, the brand has remained relevant for decades.

Until today, Fornasetti products, from candles, scarves, chairs and various homewares can be found all over the world, making it an undisputed Italian design presence.