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Table - Arabesque

Arabesque

  • Object:

    Table

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (designed)
    Turin (made)

  • Date:

    1949 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Mollino, Carlo, born 1905 - died 1973 (designer)
    Apelli & Varesio (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plywood and glass, with brass fittings
    The tiny marks on the edges of the glass top are from pincers that lifted the glass before it was entirely cold.

  • Museum number:

    W.7-1985

  • Gallery location:

    Furniture, Room 133, The Dr Susan Weber Gallery, case BY10, shelf EXP

Although it is functional, this table looks like a piece of sculpture. Its undulating curves were inspired by the work of Surrealist artists, in particular Jan Arp's flowing lines and biomorphic shapes. The shape of the table top was based on the outlines of a woman's torso. Mollino had traced it from a drawing by the Italian Surrealist Leonor Fini (1908-1996). In 1950 the table was included in a major exhibition of Italian design called Italy at Work: Her Renaissance in Design Today. The Italian government sent this travelling exhibition around America.

Physical description

Low tea table of bent plywood with a glass top and shelf. The sheet of plywood that forms the base has been bent into a series of curves and pierced with five irregular, curved cutouts. The glass top which is fixed to the plywood base with brass fasteners, is also of irregular shape and has curved edges. The shelf is shorter and narrower than the top, but has a similar curved shape. The table is further supported at one end by two small brass feet which are fixed to the plywood base.

Place of Origin

Italy (designed)
Turin (made)

Date

1949 (designed)

Artist/maker

Mollino, Carlo, born 1905 - died 1973 (designer)
Apelli & Varesio (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Plywood and glass, with brass fittings
The tiny marks on the edges of the glass top are from pincers that lifted the glass before it was entirely cold.

Dimensions

Height: 52.3 cm, Length: 125.5 cm including glass and base, Depth: 57 cm

Object history note

According to Stephen N. Cristiea the table is one of only three examples known.

Descriptive line

'Arabesque' table designed by Carlo Mollino, 1950s, plywood and glass

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Jervis, Simon, 'Echoes Over Two Centuries. Two newly acquired Italian tables at the V&A'. Country Life 6 June 1985, pp. 1586-1590.

Labels and date

Tea-Table
Designed by Carlo Mollino (Italian, 1905-1973)
Manufactured by Apelli & Varesio, Turin, Italy, 1949
Plywood and glass with brass fittings
W.7-1985
State involvement with design in Italy was less interventionist than in Britain, but the Italian government actively promoted Italian design and industry after the Second World War. In addition to the three-yearly design exhibitions (Triennale) held in Milan, the Italian government sent a major travelling exhibition around America in 1950. Entitled 'Italy at work: her Renaissance in Design Today', the exhibition included this table. [1993]
‘Arabesque’ table
1949
Designed by Carlo Mollino (1905–73)

Italy
Manufactured by Apelli & Varesio, Turin
Plywood and glass
Fittings: brass, with modern replacement bracket in Perspex

Museum no. W.7-1985

Mollino was an engineer and architect whose many passions included racing cars, photography and women. This table is perhaps his most famous furniture design. Its glass top followed the outline shape of a woman’s back in a drawing by the Surrealist artist Léonor Fini.

Both pieces of glass also have a structural function in bracing the lightweight plywood base. Daring cut-outs make the plywood flexible and transparent. [01/12/2012]

Materials

Plywood; Glass; Brass

Techniques

Bending

Categories

Furniture

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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