Carlo Bugatti, born in Milan in 1856, is best known for his innovative furniture and interior design, which are characterized by their use of unusual materials and decorative motifs. Bugatti had an artistic background, his father being an architect and sculptor. His sons carried on this tradition, Rembrandt becoming a sculptor of some renown and Ettore, a car designer, founding the Bugatti automobile company. Around 1880, after training in architecture and cabinetmaking, Carlo Bugatti opened his own studio in Milan and began to produce furniture. Its inventive and theatrical construction gradually evolved from dramatic rectilinear shapes to more fluid forms. This furniture was unique in its time and remains so today.
Bugatti also incorporated a variety of unusual materials into his furniture, such as fringing and tasselling, which added an exotic flavour and softened the hard-edged geometric style. Other unusual materials were used to embellish Bugatti’s furniture, including brass pressed with geometric patterns, pewter and other metal inlays, silk cords, ivorine (an aritficial product that has the charactistics and look of ivory), white wood and bone.
His use of vellum is also particularly characteristic and Bugatti often illuminated it with plant motifs in a soft brown wash or a delicate spider with web. He often framed these panels with strips of copper beaten with geometric patterns. Bugatti’s employment of asymmetry contributed significantly to the individual nature of his work. Its use is striking yet his furniture never appears unbalanced or out of proportion. It is completely grounded and rich with exotic ornament and imagination.