Friday, April 23, 2010


Venetian born Baron Alessandro R. de C, Albrizzi (1934 – 1994) translated the spirit of swinging London into a line of furniture and objects with panache and sophistication that were just right for the late 1960s. His extensive knowledge and love of classical furniture allowed him to sensitively design a line of furniture and objects spanning through the early 1980s that has transcended that giddy period and is now considered classic modern design. Hand-crafted with precision using acrylic (Perspex), glass, stainless steel, aluminum and wood, the Albrizzi designs prove once again that the best modern design is usually made by hand. His noble title stems from the family's wealth and properties derived from Dada Albrizzi, Alessandro's great aunt, who had bequeathed her vast estate to Alessandro's father, Giovanni on the condition that the male heir should take the surname Albrizzi to ensure that the dynasty would survive in perpetuity. Giovanni, a talented amateur painter and collector of ship models, is well remembered for designing Harry's Bar, the famous restaurant in Venice, which was founded by his friend Giuseppe Cipriani. The senior Albrizzi's design legacy continues: the famous Cipriani logo of a stylized bartender shaking a cocktail is still emblazoned on plates and glasses at all of the company's restaurants in Venice, Hong Kong, New York, London and Porto Cervo. Although survived by son Lorenzo, Alessandro’s’s early bliss of marriage to Florentine aristocrat Maria-Theresa Ginori was short lived. His frequent trips to London without his wife led to a dalliance as well as business partnership with British architect, Tony Cloughley catapulting Albrizzi’s design career. Over the course of time Albrizzi opened shops in London, Paris, New York and Palm Beach serving an elite clientele which was a natural progression given Albrizzi’s noble roots. His upper echelon social circle which facilitated much of Albrizzi’s acceptance and success included: Lennox-Boyd and Guy Nevill, whose families were close friends of the Queen and Prince Philip; Lynn Phillips, daughter of famed Martha Phillips (Martha’s couture boutique); Alain La Riviere, the scion of a wealthy Argentinean family; Diane and Egon von Furstenberg; and C.Z. Guest, the legendary blond New York socialite, wife of Winston Guest, an heir to the Phipps steel fortune. By the late 70s it had became obvious to Albrizzi that interest in his designs had peaked. Albrizzi's designs had given Perspex a reputation for chic sophistication but by the end of the 70s, Perspex had developed a bad rap given the overproduction of poor quality, cheap TV stands, magazine racks and other things. In later years Albrizzi began a fruitful collaboration with Mary Jane Pool on book projects that excited his imagination. The Gardens of Venice was published in October 1989, with Pool's elegant prose and Albrizzi's subtle color photographs, followed in 1992 by a second volume, The Gardens of Florence. While working on his third book The Gardens of New York, Albrizzi died after a protracted fight with cancer. Although possessed of wonderful country homes in Italy, in particular Palazzo Albrizzi near Balzano, Albrizzi embraced the freshness of America, and adored New York, which became home resulting in his U.S citizen in the early 1980s. Considered tremendously talented, sensitive, intelligent, and shrewd Albrizzi wore his nobility very lightly. It was there, but it didn't intrude at all in his relations with other people. The above parable stems from a wonderful literary piece that I sourced on the web (see link below), which I recommend reading/viewing in its entirety. Albrizzi’s designs today can be sourced internationally at fine dealers and auction houses.

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Octagonal Perspex, chrome, steel table (top)
Canopy bed (2nd)
Stackable Perspex cubes (3rd)
Chrome, rosewood, leather fire place set (4th)
Perspex backgammon set (bottom)

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