Italian mid century glass lighting is my go to for adding chic panache and glamour to my client’s homes. The chandeliers, sconces and table lamps are still amazingly contemporary while giving that nod to the past that says, “yes, I’m a collector who knows style when I see it”. And my top choice is usually Fontana Arte lighting designed by the master Max Ingrand (1908-1969).
Max Ingrand was born in France and studied decorative arts at the famed L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris before starting his career designing and creating stained glass for churches and chateaux across France. This training allowed him to experiment with textures and properties of glass that would shape his work later in his career. In 1954, Gio Ponti encouraged the Italian firm Fontana Arte to pursue Ingrand as art director, and the perfect match was made. Fontana Arte was already known for the innovative and creative Italian mid century glass lighting at the forefront of modernist lighting design. And Ingrand brilliantly came to use the resources, know-how and craftsmen of Fontana Arte to bring his spectacular designs to life.
The beauty of Italian mid century glass lighting is that there is something for every taste and décor: I have convinced the most reserved clients to go for grand chandeliers (2 image) of prisms and bronze that could have been designed for George Jetson, and then I have also used delicate sconces (above) to add a touch of elegance to a powder room. With glass cut and faceted to provide maximum sparkle, and ringed in a halo of brass, these sconces throw a beautiful light in a small space. Even this simple pendant below makes for an elegant statement piece.
Fontana Arte mirrors are another great addition to a room. The delightful mirror shown (main image) is a classic example of Ingrand’s mixing of unusual textures. A circle of thick, organically cut crystals that perfectly resemble gemstones surround the actual mirror. And the whole thing is lit from behind and set against the frosted glass background creating layers of depth. Another frightfully cool mirror (below) that I could see using in a vestibule is this thick and chunky rectangular piece. Fontana Arte’s craftsmen taught Ingrand to use big industrially produced pieces of glass and then have them finished by hand to give them a polished look. This mirror pairs the rough frosted rectangular frame set with Ingrand’s signature “gemstones” with a rose-colored central plate. Sixty years later and still a stunner!
Fontana Arte lighting owes much of its success to Max Ingrand. The two names are synonymous with great Italian mid century glass lighting and mirror design. Since lighting and mirrors are parts of design that no space can be without, I encourage you to push the limits and be creative when designing your own rooms. A great piece like any of those shown here will make a well appointed room the talk of the town.
richard rabel: interiors + art
interior design and art advising
new york city