He lived most of his life in Milan, attending the Brera Art Academy from 1930-32 when he was expelled for insubordination. During World War II, he went into exile in Switzerland from 1943-46. He created more than 11,000 items, many featuring the face of a woman, operatic soprano Lina Cavalieri, as a motif. Fornasetti found her face in a 19th-century magazine. “What inspired me to create more than 500 variations on the face of a woman?” asks Italian designer, Piero Fornasetti of himself. “I don’t know,” he admits, “I began to make them and I never stopped.” The “Tema e Variazioni” (theme and variation) plate series based on Cavalieri's face numbered more than 350.
Today it is most common to see Fornasetti's style in fashion and room accessories such as scarves, ties, lamps, furniture, china plates and tables.
His son, Barnaba Fornasetti, continues to design in his father's name.
- Fornasetti: The Complete Universe, by Mariuccia Casadio, Barnaba Fornasetti and Andrea Branzi, Rizzoli, 2010, ISBN 0-8478-3534-0
- Frescoes by Palazzo Bo of Padua (1942)
- Inside the casino San Remo (1950)
- In charge of furnishing the house Lucano (1951) part of "total furnishing and decoration"
- Participating in the interior decorating of the ocean liner Andrea Doria (1952)
- Creating 'Stanza Metafisica' (metaphysics piece) (1955 to 1958) in 32 modular panels of 16 meters in total length.
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