ALVINO BAGNI 'PIDOU' VASES (1979) FOR RAYMOR - PAIR
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Offered as a set, a pair of chocolate early-production Pidou vases designed by Alvino Bagni for Raymor in 1979. Their forms are inspired by architectural elements of Renzo Piano’s Centre Pompidou (hence the name) which Bagni had visited shortly after its opening in 1977—namely the pipes that run along the facade of the famous Paris museum. Bagni's Pidou (aka Tubo) vases can interlock with one another to form complex arrangements or they can function independently. Aside from the original limited production, the UK retailer Habitat briefly reissued two of the forms with silver and gold metallic finishes in 2007 for in-store sale. More recently, Simona Cardinetti and Christoph Schnug, in collaboration with Nuove Forme, reinterpreted some of Bagni's iconic shapes—including three from the Pidou collection—in fresh chromatic colorways. We are aware of the existence of four different original shapes, generally designated by their basic alphabet forms: 'b', 'h', 'L', and 'S'. (The last two are included in this pair.)
ALVINO BAGNI (1919-2009) was born in the municipality of Lastra a Signa in the environs of Florence. His boyhood and adolescence were spent without his father, who, as a communist, had been exiled under Italian fascism. The young Bagni learned the basics of drawing and clay modeling under the tutelage of painter and sculptor Torello Santini (1875-1946). Bagni's interest in ceramics—a locally important industry—grew, and he found work at Arnaldo Pugi’s furnace in Ponte a Signa. Following WWII, Pugi helped him finance the opening of his own studio, BAGNI CERAMICHE, where several family members were employed, including his wife Gina. (Gina would work alongside Bagni throughout his career.) 3500 elephant-head plates bearing the slogan “I like Ike” were manufactured for export during Eisenhower's 1952 run for the US presidency—an early and prophetic commission: the large majority of Bagni’s work would be exported to the US market.
In the 1950s and '60s Bagni established fundamental collaborations with Bitossi Ceramiche in nearby Montelupo Fiorentino and with the American import companies Rosenthal Netter and Raymor, the latter being the dominant firm. These relationships allowed Bagni to open a larger, better-equipped factory where he was able to surround himself with highly skilled artists—Enzo Borgini, M. Mannori, Remo Buti, and Michelangelo Santonocito among them. Bagni produced a stunning variety of designs for Raymor, including some highly individualistic studio work. He was always experimenting with glazes and produced some truly radical combinations and colors schemes. A case in point is the 'Sea Garden' décor, an unusual mix of turquoise, blue, green, yellow, brown, and black. Bagni often incorporated metal rings or other pieces with his ceramic designs.
By 1980 BAGNI CERAMICHE had almost 100 employees and was internationally renowned for high-quality, artistic production, and the use of innovative techniques. As the world increasingly opened up to global competition, however, the company found itself in financial straits. Tied as it was to an “artisanal” approach, it struggled to withstand the downward pressure on prices. Despite Bagni's noble efforts to save his factory and employees, BAGNI CERAMICHE closed for good in 1990.
Bagni returned to pottery in 1993 with Nuove Forme, a venture cofounded with son-in-law Gianfranco Ghiretti in Sesto Fiorentino. A natural evolution of BAGNI CERAMICHE, Nuove Forme continued to research and experiment with colors and processes. It found its niche producing limited runs of virtually unique objects for the most discerning of buyers. Nuove Forme owns many of Bagni's historical designs and curates an enormous Bagni showroom—something of a museum of his work. Bagni retired for health reasons in 2001. He died in 2009 at age 90.
Maker – Alvino Bagni
Production Period – 1970s
Designer – Alvino Bagni
Design Period – 1979
Origin – Italy
Styles/Movements – Minimalism; Spage Age
Materials – Ceramic
Colors – Brown
Condition – Excellent vintage condition.
Dimensions – 11" W × 6 ¾" D × 9 ¾" H