Carlo, papa and patriarch of the Bugatti design family, got around to design by accident. Trained from his youth in the fine arts -- as a sculptor and painter at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan, as well as... [more]
Carlo, papa and patriarch of the Bugatti design family, got around to design by accident. Trained from his youth in the fine arts -- as a sculptor and painter at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan, as well as at the Ã‰cole des Beaux-Arts, Paris -- he embarked on his furniture-designing career because of his sister. For her wedding, in 1880, he wanted to make something special. Bugatti rose quickly in the design world, and by 1888 he opened his own cabinet-making workshop and decorating business in Milan. By the time of his death in 1940, he had decorated estates in Britain and palaces in Istanbul, and established a dynasty of designing Bugattis.
His designs are wild, exciting, innovative, and sometimes simply just too much. The forms are asymmetrical, curvilinear, and ovoid, while the surfaces are stenciled, inlaid, bronzed, and tassled -- usually all at once. Bugatti borrowed elements from Eastern cultures and moved through Moorish, Japanese, and Middle Eastern styles with vigor. Chairs, tables, and silverware often boast abstract insect forms as adornment. His works teeter between the imaginatively tasteful and the gaudy; not surprisingly, the designer gained reknown for his extravagance and eccentricity.
One of Bugatti's most famous projects was his
"Snail Room," featured in a 1902 international exposition of decorative arts in Turin. The exotic interior was just wacky enough to ensure the master artisan a place in design history. Its curvilinear "Cobra" chairs render the graceful stance of that wicked animal solely through sleekly and imaginatively crafted wood and metal.
Carlo Bugatti treated his craft as fine art, and
eventually came to be thought of as one of the most innovative designers of the Art Nouveau period. It is somewhat appropriate that Bugatti began designing to celebrate the marriage of a family member -- Bugatti's passion and ingenuity would become traits passed on through his family line. His two sons, working and learning beside their father in his shop, became established craftsmen. The eldest, Ettore, designed artfully stylish automobiles and the younger, Rembrandt, became an accomplished sculptor. [show less]