Gianfranco Frattini for Bernini Mod 503

Italian designer Gianfranco Frattini collaborated with many companies and creators during his long career, including Carlo Scarpa, Cassina, and Bernini, of course. In a new era of Italian design, their goal was to connect the creators with the developers. It’s the new industrial design made to be functional and elegant in its forms and shapes. While the term “industrial” might evoke images of plastic objects and impersonal furniture. 

These collections portray just the opposite. Gianfranco Frattini for Bernini created timeless pieces, sofas, and armchairs. They aren’t impersonal, on the contrary. His goal was to create a welcoming space where people could interact with the furniture while interacting with the space. It’s all about creating feelings. 

Introducing Bernini 

This design company was born in the economic boom of Italy after World War II. This was a prosperous period for the country, with the industry sector and its chains producing quickly and almost non-stop. Their first building was near Mantova, but Bernini opened a laboratory in Milan after a few years. That’s when Frattini first contacted the company, looking for a successful collaboration. 

Bernini focused on artisanal beauty and knowledge, especially working with wood, a material discarded in the decades of plastic. But the Italian company didn’t give up, and it kept using wood, this time to adapt to the requests and needs of an industrial and consumerist society. The idea was to create furniture with modern lines, functional and ergonomic. 

Since the Italian designer loved using wood in his creations, the collaboration of Gianfranco Frattini for Bernini was a true match made in heaven. 

Gianfranco Frattini for Bernini 

The designer and the design company first met in the mid-1950s, when the creator was in charge of the interiors of the nightclub Stork in Milan. This was supposed to be a one-time project, but the collaboration was so fruitful that Bernini asked the designer to create a whole, exclusive furniture collection. 

From 1957 to 1971

This collection included the first piece by Gianfranco Frattini for Bernini: the 530 desk, which dates back to 1957. The 530 desk features a walnut wood structure and top. This is a writing desk, comfortable for long hours at work and with many spacious drawers. The designer placed tiny roller shutters by the sides of the central drawers, perfect to hide any personal items. This characteristic was a novelty for the time and true innovation in a desk that otherwise looks traditional. 

Vintage Bernini Advertising mod 530

Another success signed by Frattini for Bernini is the 522 desk, made in 1960. It’s completely different from the 530 desk. In fact, the 522 doesn’t belong in an office, and the secretary culture does not inspire it. It’s a circular rosewood table with a base supported by C-shaped four brackets. The table is dismountable, making its transportation and assembly easy and convenient. The perfect complement to both desks can be the 540 bookcase. It’s made of four cylindrical elements, and the shelves rotate in different directions. 

Gianfranco Frattini Mod 540 Bookcase

In 1960, the collaboration between Frattini and Bernini also produced the 503 sideboard. Made of rosewood and with rolling shutters, this piece of furniture features a wood base that can also be used separately. After the secretaire desk 530, the Italian designer created the 804 desk in 1961. It features a tambour closure and a structure in walnut wood. People could enjoy this table from both sides thanks to the many drawers. 

Gianfranco Frattini Mod. 503 Sideboard for Bernini 1960
Gianfranco Frattini for Bernini Mod 804

In 1964, the collection Frattini for Bernini launched the bar cabinet 831, revolving and made of wood as always with the Italian designer.

Vintage Bernini Advertising Gianfranco Frattini Mod 831 Turner

The 1980s

In 1981, the designer produced the Ovunque series, which included furniture pieces like a wardrobe and a sideboard. 

Vintage Bernini Advertising Ovunque Series

The last result of this unique collaboration is the Sesamo desk in 1983. It features a revolving base in a cylindrical shape. It also features a rack mechanism that allows the viewer to slide the planes, revealing a set of drawers. For this last creation for Bernini, Frattini introduced new materials in his work, aside from wood. But he still chose warm and traditional materials, like the leather of the support plane. 

Gianfranco Frattini Sesamo for Bernini

All the Pieces Created by Gianfranco Frattini for Bernini

These pieces are some of the most iconic ones born from the partnership between the Italian designer and the Italian design company. Frattini also produced more pieces for Bernini; here’s the complete list. 

 From the 1950s to the 80s

  • Desk, Mod. 530. Bernini, 1957
  • Bookcase, Mod. 540. Bernini, 1960
  • Cabinets, Mods. 503/504. Bernini, 1960
  • Table, Mod. 522. Bernini, 1960
  • Desk, Mod. 535. Bernini, 1960
  • Wardrobe, Mod. 591. Bernini, 1960
  • Bed, Mod. 581. Bernini, 1960
  • Desk, Mod 804. Bernini, 1961
  • Desk, Mod. 807/801/803. Bernini, 1961
  • Revolving bookcase, Turner (Mod. 825) Bernini, 1963
  • Revolving cabinet, Mod 831. Bernini, 1963
  • Desk, Mod. 804. Bernini, 1964
  • Bookcase. Bernini, 1967
  • Screen, Mod. 835. Bernini, 1968
  • Clothes Stand, Mod. 840. Bernini, 1968
  • Furniture, Series 560. Bernini, 1971
  • Bookcase. Bernini, 1980
  • Furniture, Ovunque. Bernini, 1981
  • Furniture, Materita. Bernini, 1981
  • Bookcase, Practica. Bernini, 1981
  • Chairs, Mods. 830 + 832. Bernini, 1981
  • Desk, Sesamo. Bernini, 1983

Without a doubt, this collaboration produced many pieces and exclusive collections. Frattini kept working until his death in 2004, creating more unique interiors and furniture, such as the preliminary design of a restaurant in Yokohama, Japan, and the Lamp House for FontanaArte. His creations are timeless. 

Vintage Bernini Advertising 500 Series
Gianfranco Frattini Ovunque Chair for Bernini
Bernini Mod 522 Table

Avant-garde yet Traditional 

The collaboration between Frattini and Bernini was the result of the times changing. Designers like Frattini, Gio Ponti, and Afra and Tobia Scarpa looked at the past to create a new future of design and furniture. And their vision was pushed by companies such as Bernini and Cassina, companies that believed in being avant-garde. The traditional style was shifting, moving more and more in the direction of industrial style. 

This style was innovative, of course. Designers used new technologies and techniques, like polyurethane foam, to produce functional pieces. Or the rolling shutters of pieces like the 530 desk

But this new era of Italian design also looked at the country’s tradition of artisanship. That’s why wood is the protagonist in these creations, warm and solid. And it’s paired with other warm materials, like leather, to create furniture that feels “humane.” There is no space for plastic, at least for these designers. And there is no space for impersonal, at least not in the collaboration of Frattini for Bernini.

Gianfranco Frattini for Bernini mod 504

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