Crespi, who would have been 101 this year, saw her career peak during a time when men dominated the Milan design scene. During the second half of the 20th century, the Milanese design icon, distinctly remembered for her courage, garnered respect and recognition through the decades with her otherworldly, groundbreaking designs that recalled scenes from far off places — unbound from fleeting trends.
Over the past four years, Yashar said she had been working on amassing Crespi pieces. The eponymous exhibit “Gabriella Crespi” is very much a culmination of this effort, which the gallery says is one of the most extensive collections of Crespi’s work.
“Her strength was exemplified through brass and, of course, her work with bamboo was a result of her trips to places like India. Her pieces are iconic and fortunately, her narrative isn’t all the same,” Yashar told WWD at the opening on Via della Spiga.
In fact “Gabriella Crespi” underscores the designer’s versatility and expertise with a variety of opposing materials, illustrated through two of her seminal projects “Rising Sun” and “Plurimi.” Rising Sun is a collection marked by its pattern of bamboo stems irradiating from a central golden sun and which was crafted onto chairs, trays, screens and a large elliptical dining table. Plurimi, which embraced steel, brass and plexiglass, was envisaged in part to save space and characterized by its diverse variations and multiplicity of uses. Plurimi includes famous and symbolic pieces like the Cubo Magico, Cubo Tondo, the Ellisse coffee table and the Yang Yin desk bookcase.
A testament to the lasting contemporary spirit of Crespi’s work (she died in 2017), demand for her pieces are on the rise. Last year, Denmark-based Gubi put forth the Bohemian 72 Collection, a collaboration with Archivio Gabriella Crespi and which reflected the harmony between Crespi’s artistic, bohemian vision and her love of travel.
Born in 1922, Gubi said Crespi was also known for her own stylish image and network. “She moved effortlessly among both European royalty and the Hollywood jet set. Her indisputable glamour and sophisticated sense of style made her a muse to fashion designer Valentino [Garavani], and brought the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Gianni Versace and Hubert de Givenchy into her social circle.”
At Nilufar, Yashar also highlighted new visionaries whose work resonates with Crespi’s legacy. On display were the delicate, luminous creations by designer Maximilian Marchesani, a product engineer who displayed chandeliers and wall lamps made with branches collected locally and which were then hollowed at the core to make way for thin cables. “This dynamic dialogue between past and present reflects the enduring nature of design as an evolving conversation across temporal boundaries,” Yashar said.
The exhibit will be on display until Jan. 25 at Nilufar Gallery’s space on Via della Spiga 32.