Italian designer Piero Fornasetti once quite famously asked of himself: “What inspired me to create more than 500 variations on the face of a woman?” His admittance: “I don’t know, I began to make them and I never stopped.” is almost as charming as the plates themselves.

Piero Fornasetti

 Born in 1913, Piero Fornasetti was a Milanese painter and interior designer. One day he came across an image of the Opera singer Lina Cavalieri in a French, 19th century magazine, looking as enigmatic as the Mona Lisa. This image inspired Fornasetti to create his series of over 350 plates.

Each plate expands on the initial plate as he moves through themes such as illusion, architectural perspectives, the sun, and harlequins. Each plate explores the ideas of classical beauty and the mysteries of femininity. The wistful smile and saucer eyes of Lina Cavalieri engage the viewer through Fornasetti’s distinct black and white graphic style. The look is classic and timeless, a design icon to enhance your home surroundings.

Lina Cavalieri (25 December 1874 – 7 February 1944) was an Italian operatic soprano known for her great beauty.


Born Natalina Cavalieri in Viterbo, Latium, Italy, she lost her parents at the age of fifteen and became a ward of the state, sent to live in a Roman Catholic orphanage. The vivacious young girl was extremely unhappy under the strict raising of the nuns, and at the first opportunity she ran away with a touring theatrical group.

Blessed with a singing talent, a young Cavalieri made her way to Paris, France, where her stunning good looks opened doors and she obtained work as a singer at one of the city’s café-concerts. From there she performed at a variety of music halls and other such venues around Europe while still working to develop her voice for the opera. A soprano, Cavalieri took voice lessons and made her opera debut in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1900, the same year she married her first husband, the Russian Prince Bariatinsky. Eventually she followed in the footsteps of Hariclea Darclée as one of the first stars of Puccini’s Tosca. In 1904 she sang at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo then in 1905, at the Sarah Bernhardt Theatre in Paris, Cavalieri starred opposite Enrico Caruso in the Umberto Giordano opera, Fedora. From there, she and Caruso took the show to New York City, debuting with it at the Metropolitan Opera on 5 December 1906.


Cavalieri remained with the Metropolitan Opera for the next two seasons performing again with Caruso in 1907 in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. Renowned as much for her great beauty as for her singing voice, she became one of the most photographed stars of her time. Frequently referred to as the “world’s most beautiful woman,” she was part of the tightlacing tradition that saw women use corsetry to create an “hour-glass” figure. During the 1909–1910 season she sang with Oscar Hammerstein’s Manhattan Opera Company. Her first marriage long over, she had a whirlwind romance and marriage with Robert Winthrop Chanler (1872–1930), a member of New York’s prominent Astor family. However, this marriage lasted only a very short time and Cavalieri returned to Europe where she became a much-loved star in pre-Revolutionary St. Petersburg, Russia, and in the Ukraine.

During her career, Cavalieri sang with other opera greats such as the Italian baritone Titta Ruffo and the French tenor Lucien Muratore, whom she married in 1913. After retiring from the stage, Cavalieri ran a cosmetic salon in Paris. In 1914, on the eve of her fortieth birthday — her beauty still spectacular — she wrote an advice column on make-up for women in Femina magazine and published a book, My Secrets of Beauty. In 1915, she returned to her native Italy to make motion pictures. When that country became involved in World War I, she went to the United States where she made four more silent films. The last three of her films were the product of her friend, the Belgian film director Edward José.

Married for the fourth time to Paolo d’Arvanni, Cavalieri returned to live with her husband in Italy. Well into her sixties when World War II broke out, she nevertheless worked as a volunteer nurse. Cavalieri was killed in 1944 during an Allied bombing raid that destroyed her home in the outskirts of Florence.

La Cavalieri’s discography is slim. In 1910, for Columbia, she recorded arias from Faust, Carmen, Mefistofele, La bohème, Manon Lescaut and Tosca, as well as the song, “Maria, Marì! (Ah! Marì! Ah! Marì!).” In 1917, for Pathé, the soprano recorded “Le rêve passé,” with Muratore.


She was painted by the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini (acquired by Maurice Rothschild) and by the Swiss-born American artist Adolfo Müller-Ury (1862-1947). The latter is now the property of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, the gift of Nicholas Meredith Turner in memory of his wife the soprano Jessica Dragonette. Hers is the face that appears repeatedly, obsessively in Piero Fornasetti’s designs.


Giovanni Boldini

In 1955, Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida portrayed Cavalieri in the film The World’s Most Beautiful Woman. In 2004, a book was published authored by Paul Fryer and Olga Usova titled Lina Cavalieri -The Life of Opera’s Greatest Beauty, 1874–1944.


If music

be the food

of love,



My inspiration for collecting abandoned jazz instruments and presenting them to the public as art pieces is because of my love of music.
My very first piece was a broken saxaphone acquired in Tehran via Paris when we lived there in the 70’s in the mountains. We left when the revolution came but the saxaphone remained with us in other countries where we lived.
Years later, living in Hackney, I looked at the saxophone with all its memories. Outside my house was a steamroller, impulsively I had the artistic desire to squash it and make it
into an art piece on copper. The copper was an old boiler I got from Wales and from that moment I’ve been collecting non- workable mainly brass instruments, enjoying the connection, feel of the metals, form and shape of them.
I was bought up on jazz n blues and then came rock n roll! so excited to meet the likes of Louis Armstrong to Jimi Hendrix, saw Miles Davies at Ronnies , Van Morrison many times and on the Isle of Wight ’69 and ’70 listened to all the great rock bands some are still playing.
Today Im still around musicians from all over the world and spent time working at the Vortex Jazz Club for a few years with the pleasure of listening to all kinds of jazz.
I’m also an oil painter presently working on some jazz canvasses to express the colours, harmony, rhythm and sounds I feel when I listen to music.

For this year’s London Design Festival Milk Concept Boutique presents

Imagine, Inspire and Explore
and would like to invite you to an exclusive preview of inspiring artworks

by Elaine Breinlinger

In collaboration with the London Design Festival

Tuesday 22nd September 2015 at The Clerk’s House
in Shoreditch
6pm – 9.30pm

All enquiries
+44 (0)207 7 299 880

London Design Festival 19-27 September 2015
The Clerk’s House
118 1/2 Shoreditch High Street
E1 6jN
Opening Hours
Mon -Fri, Sun 11am – 7pm
Sat  – Sun, 11am – 6pm

Designer: Pablo Girones
Gandia Blasco


The exquisite Sonora outdoor planters were designed by Pablo Girones for Gandia Blasco in Valencia Spain. These cube shaped planters have gracious rounded edges. The planter collection is made from durable lacquered aluminum which makes them weather resistant and great for the outdoors. The planters have wheels on them for easy mobility.

The planters are available in five different shapes and sizes and 4 color options. They are perfect for the pool side, patio, garden setting, outdoor bar and lounge area. Very nice and minimal, these beautiful planters are a natural extension of the modern home. Their timeless good looks will compliment any outdoor space.

The Gandia Blasco Sonora Outdoor Planters are made from durable lacquered aluminum for outdoor use which can withstand the test of time and will look fresh and new for many years to come. The Sonora line was designed to be virtually indestructible. This outdoor planter will stand up to the harshest environments.

This fade-resistant material is very durable and has a high tensile strength. It is suitable for both cold and warm climates and resistant to salt water and most solvents. Because it can’t absorb water, it will not crack or warp. Carefree maintenance promises that you can enjoy the outdoors at any time. This modern outdoor planters were designed with style and longevity in mind. And it is easy to clean: simply rinse it off with a garden hose or a pressure washer.

Specs and dimension here below:

For any further information please contact us via email (click here) or call us on ++44 (0)207 7 299 880

Not all chairs make it in to the hall of fame category that is being classed as a ‘design classic’ but the Zig-Zag chair has stood its ground in this category more than half a century.

Gerrit Rietveld designed the Zig-Zag chair comprising four planar elements, originally constructed from oak with brass fittings and later changed to cherry with more complex dovetailing, it was, and still is, radically different from traditional chair design. Minimal in section, and easily stacked, it is both practical and revolutionary.

Rietveld was very much aware of the discrepancy between the simple shape and the relatively complicated construction and said himself, it is not a chair but a “designer joke.” The actual goal of the design was to create a functional form which does not displace space but allows it to be perceived as a continuum.

Now officially produced by Italian furniture makers, Cassina (who purchased the rights in 1971), the Zig-Zag chair is, like most design classics, frequently copied and sold. You can spot a Cassina chair by looking on the underside for the Cassina mark and the number etched in to the wood.

The Zig-Zag is an expression of the ‘De Stijl‘ movement and is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The work of Rietveld is defined by continual experimentation. The brilliant Dutch architect of neoplasticism designed and proposed numerous variations on his most famous models. He loved raw surfaces and sometimes whitened wood with natural reagents such as sunlight or salt and is part of the London Design Museum ‘A century of chairs’ exhibition

Reitveld possessed a duality of character which was exhibited in two ways. First was as a craftsman cabinet maker, working in a primordial idiom, reinventing chairs and other furniture as if no one had ever built them before and following a structural code all of his own; the second is that of an architect working with elegant formulas, determined to drive home the rationalist and neoplastic message in the context of European Architecture.

Cassina have produced a video showing the modern construction of the chair. Turn your sound down to avoid to bad muzak, sit back and enjoy craft and manufacturing goodness…


The identity of Bitossi Ceramiche starts from the beginning of 1900’s and develops upon a productive ceramic tradition that existed in Montelupo Fiorentino starting from 1500. The activity of the Bitossi family started in 1921 for the will of Guido Bitossi with the establishment of “Manifattura Ceramica Cav. Guido Bitossi & Figli” that combined typical local craft works into a structured productive organisation.

More than 7000 original pieces starting from the 50’s, were collected and filed in the “Bitossi Industrial Archive”; 200 selected pieces among those can be seen at MAIB – Artistic Industrial Bitossi Museum, that was built by the company to showcase this historical path. Bitossi Ceramiche is still run by the same family and thanks to the historical and cultural heritage that was recovered in these last years, it keeps alive its original craft roots, combined with a constant innovation. A never ending formal research and the skilled hands of ceramicist masters led to the development of the creations of Aldo Londi from 1950’s and then of Ettore Sottsass and Piero Fornasetti along with the following production of the company with the support of several designers, always focusing on style evolution.

Dimensions: H 21 cm


Nowadays the tradition of hand-made products is continuing with the collaboration with Arik Levy, Karim Rashid, Ginevra Bocini, Fabio Novembre and more recently Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Luisa Bocchietto and Mario Ferrarini. Bitossi Ceramiche: great artistic ceramic tradition and contemporary design.

Cyclik Vase – Konvolution collection
Dimensions: H 27 cm – L 20 cm
Limited ed. 79 pc (SOLD)


Karim Rashid is a leading figure in the fields of product and interior design, fashion, furniture, lighting and art. Born in Cairo, half Egyptian and half English, and raised in Canada, Karim now practices in New York.

Spiralik Vase – Konvolution collection
Dimensions: H 21 cm – L 33 cm – L 21 cm
Limited ed. 79 pcs

Korrelation Vase – Konvolution collection
Dimensions: H 37 cm – L 34 cm
Limited ed. 79 pcs


A sense of play is the starting point of all of her projects, that turn into surprising shapes always striving for uncommon solutions. Ginevra Bocini took her Master degree at Central Saint-Martins College of Art and desogn in London. She collaborates with Bitossi Ceramiche and brings ahead this research aiming to bring back craft skill through design, to bring back value to the “culture of making”.

Maria – Bambole collection
Dimensions: H 33 cm
Limited ed. 199 pcs

Carmela Bambole collection
Dimensions:H 33 cm
Limited ed. 199 pcs


Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have been working together for about ten years now. Their collaboration is a permanent dialogue nourished by their distinct personalities. In 1997, they presented their “Disintegrated Kitchen” in Paris and were spotted by Cappellini, who gave them their first design project, notably the Lit clos and in 2002 they started working with Vitra. Since 2004, the Bouroullecs have also been working with Magis, for whom they designed two complete furniture collections. Today, they design for numerous manufacturers, as Vitra, Kvadrat, Kartell, Established and Sons, Ligne Roset, Axor, Alessi.

Lamp – Lampalumina collection
Dimensions: H 66 cm – Led 2,8 With Led replacement kit supplied
Limited ed. 49 pcs

For more information please contact us at

Goran Lelas

Art | Blog | Design | Fashion | Scenography

July 09, 2013

Goran Lelas: “Quando diventero’ adulto faro’ il bambino di professione”…

“When I grow up I want to be a Child”…

“… I landed on earth in a family with a father and a mother and extraordinary even a sister. Reality hit me instantly. Where I came from I could walk, communicate and play. Over here I would have to to re-learn it all over”.

Certainty about the future came only when as a child my mother gave me a pencil and paper, soon to become a vessel that would allow me to embark on a recorded adventure of the worlds around me.

I hadn’t realized then how important a gift that was, how hugely it would transform my life and how simple a decision it would make to go on setting my future.

Goran has a strong connection with 80’s Italy, which tickled his creativity and boosted his inspiration. He identified it as a nation of immense creative resources and quoted: ‘Creativity in Italy is like water and air to people.

Goran’s involvement with fashion started with a collaboration with Sergio Rossi in the making of two pairs of conceptual ‘dream’ shoe. He has also created highly detailed costumes and puppets for theater and opera, including the special production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and more recently for the Shoemaker of Delft opera in October 2012 in his native Croatia. His work has been published in Vogue Pelle, Vogue Bambini, Casa Vogue, Glamour, ID Magazine, The Shanghai Daily and The New York Times.


Somewhere City musical - 2012

The Shoemaker of Delft - 2012


In 2013 and with the collaboration of companies such as Artemide, Labelkings, Irinox, Costanza Algranti, Lolli e Memmoli, Benedetta, Mori Ubaldini, Daniele Papuli, Annagemma Lascari Goran conceived Luna Art: “It’ is all about the craftsmen/women who contributed to the realization of this project. From my drawing board I brought them several ideas but one requirement: to be part of a team-playground in the making of each individual garment”.

The amazing and playful response of each worker involved culminated in a ‘floating’ catwalk where fashion married industrial design and where people involved revisited their innate child-state of mind, the playfulness of a playground where the open-eyed dreamers can still make reality come true.

Goran Lelas's Dress for Alessi @ Luna Art, 2013

Luna Art Catwalk, Milan February 2013


Dreams and visions are a common denominator in Goran’s work and at the Heart of his talk during his appearance at the 2013 TEDx event in Milan.

With the landing of his son, new inspiration and ideas burst out and  ‘Somewhere city’ was born.  ‘Somewhere City’ is a flying city that constantly travels from one part of the planet to the other changing the arrangement of streets and houses so that everybody becomes everybody’s neighbor at least for a day.

Somewhere City, 3D visualization of the flying city and some of its inhabitants


Thanks to himself, his dreams and his portfolio of work in Milan, New York, London and Zagreb, Goran then succeeded in producing 6 prototypes with Alberto Alessi in Italy to be released in 2008 as a special series of collectibles entitled Somewhere City by established toys company STRANGEco. Designed by himself and co-branded with the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The result was a selection of toys and plush dolls containing interchangeable pieces, which made them ideal for adult collectors and kids alike.

Oink La Rouge sculpture from Somewhere City


Most importantly Somewhere City wants to deliver a message to our planet: “Never stop believing that dreams are good for you”.


Some of Somewhere City inhabitants

Goran has also committed himself to the creating and writing of a script for the Somewhere City TV show that is to be broadcasted on American TV.

Could this be the reconstitution of a new Ministry of Dreams that traditionally programs such as Sesame Street have brought into millions of households?

Goran Lelas Illustrations, 2012


Goran’s model drawings are themselves unique pieces carefully conceived in dry pastel on cardboard (A2 size). Milk Concept Boutique has the honour of hosting a series of his amazing energy boosting, colourful one off canvases, currently displayed alongside rare first Somewhere City glass figurine prototypes, soon available to purchase in limited edition series (enquiry

Oink La Rouge

Memo Wee

Art | Blog | Fornasetti

July 08, 2013

Fornasetti: The Complete Universe
Essential Reading

For fans, collectors and dealers Rizzoli’s upcoming book Fornasetti: The Complete Universe is cause for massive celebration. Nearly 700 pages long, with 3,000 images and illustrations, it is a composite catalogue raisonne and coffee table book extraordinaire. For those ever frustrated with the paucity of information on Fornasetti, the book feels like a miracle.

I like to equate Fornasetti with Andy Warhol. Both had long, prolific careers that constantly replenished their output with material that was simultaneously fresh but iconic. Both were talented illustrators and masters of appropriation. Fornasetti is remarkable in the realms of both art and design in his enthusiastic embrace of figuration, antiquity and the ornate defying not only his generations aesthetic preferences but many trends inherent in Modernism.

Unlike Warhol, whose works are mostly priced in the million dollar range, objects by Fornasetti remain accessible to a large segment of the population. Of course there are Fornasetti pieces (notably 1950’s furniture emblazoned with his most iconic motifs) with price tags that approach six-figures. However there is also a significant amount of material available on the secondary market today that was made by the Fornasetti atelier during his lifetime. (Full disclosure: I am a dealer who specializes in vintage Fornasetti) Such pieces, including everything from silk scarves, lamps, umbrella stands, ashtrays, mirrors and decorated porcelain can be found in the several hundred to several thousand dollar range. Fornasetti: The Complete Universe is such an astounding book as for the first time there is an attempt to document and date everything (?!) that Piero created during his lifetime. Fornasetti has numerous motifs or subjects that he applied to an array of consumer goods that are uniquely his own notably malachite, mythology, playing cards, the personification of the sun and moon, musical instruments and “Themes & Variations” (which puts a woman’s face in over 300 surrealist scenarios).

The book is composed of two-halves; one dedicated to his artistic ambitions and evolution, the second how his talents were applied to creating a host of elaborate and distinctive consumer products. Fornasetti’s son, Barnaba is largely responsible for both maintaining his father’s archives, the creation of this book and the enduring popularity of Fornasetti. Since his father’s death in 1988, Barnaba has actively reissued designs and licensed certain iconic images. Some purists may find it problematic that such post-humous work is included here. After all such pieces were not created nor overseen by the creator and will likely never appreciate in value.

Regardless, Fornasetti: The Complete Universe is another feat by Rizzoli which is distinguishing itself as defining, expanding and educating on the 20th century design canon. Listed at £180 ( the book is both very expensive but undeniably valuable (as the last significant Fornasetti book was published in 1991).

Images: Fornasetti ‘ The Complete Universe’

  • Categories