Carlo Bugatti – A Century Ahead Of His Time

by John Werry on May 1, 2009

carlo bugatti furniture 12 Carlo Bugatti   A Century Ahead Of His Time

Carlo Bugatti’s Art Nouveau furniture designs look more like they were designed for Batman’s home than for the homes of the turn of the 19th century when they were made (the firescreen above was is circa 1900).  Paul Tucker tells me that indeed Bruce Wayne’s bedroom furniture in one of the recent Batman movies was made by Bugatti, though I could not find a screen capture to show here.

If you are not already familiar with Carlo Bugatti, you may be at least familiar with his son Ettore’s car company that bears the family’s surname.  It’s not surprising that the car designs were not just functional but also works of art.  Carlo’s father was architect and sculptor Giovanni Luigi Bugatti, so design ran deep in the family roots.

Bugatti designed ceramics, textiles, musical instruments, and silverware, but was best known for his furniture, which to me is like a Kimbel & Cabus/George Hunzinger collaboration making tramp art – in a good way.

The color in Bugatti’s furniture often comes from his use of copper, mother of pearl, parchment and exotic wood inlays.  Bugatti’s furniture decorated prominent buildings and garnered high awards, such as the silver medal at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair.

Today his most desirable pieces can attract sums at auction that are well into the five-figure range.

You can read more about Carlo at the Bugatti website here.  Thanks go to Paul for introducing me to his work and I am now a fan.  Sorry for the tramp art analogy Paul, but seeing some of his pieces triggered the association in my brain.

This bookcase on Ebay at the current moment is being attributed to Carlo Bugatti, though the $1,500 price that they are offering it up at makes me think that they are more likely to mean “manner of” than the “attributed to” that they are using.

Photos of Bugatti’s work below are courtesy of Liveauctioneers.com.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

james conrad May 2, 2009 at 3:30 am

Yeah, i am a fan of his as well, this little parlor table caused quite a stir at Ken Farmers auction a few months ago.

http://www.maineantiquedigest.com/stories/index.html?id=931

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drew49 May 2, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Hi!
Thanks for showcasing Carlo Bugatti’s wonderful work. His son, Ettore Bugatti, produced the cars bearing his name in Molsheim, Alsace, which is now a part of France. The new Bugatti is a Volkswagen marque. The BBC tv show, Top Gear, featured a segment in which James May, one the show’s three hosts, maxed out a late-model Bugatti Veyron ($1.2 car!) at 253 miles per hour.
Best regards,
drew49

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RareVictorian May 3, 2009 at 8:32 am

I like the car a little less knowing that Simon Cowell has one – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga-LS5O-edQ

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monkecmonkedo May 5, 2009 at 9:46 pm

There is a Carlo Bugatti Chair (signed) and a Cabinet on eBay now:

Chair
Cabinet

Reply

woodwright May 6, 2009 at 6:42 am

The chair & cabinet are definately his work. I’m always surprised at what Bugatti pieces bring. If I only had 1 word to describe his work/ style it would probably be funky – or maybe even weird. His work is definately eye catching and & stands and out from the crowd of ordinary furniture. woodwright

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