As an adolescent during WWII working in a brassware shop in Como, silversmith and designer Lino Sabattini learned his future trade by reading Domus, Gio Ponti’s renowned design and architecture journal. He briefly apprenticed to Rolando Hettner, German refugee ceramicist before moving to Milan around 1954, where he set up a small metalworking studio and met Gio Ponti who would soon publish his designs in Domus. His creative repertoire was composed mainly of cutlery, tableware, vases, and candlesticks in silver, but he worked in other metals as well as in glass and ceramics. Between 1956 and 1963 Sabattini also held the position of director of design for Christofle in Paris, where he worked on the Formes nouvelles line of electroplated silver and the Gallia line, for which he designed “Canoa,” an ovoid bowl in Jon Howell’s collection (#1320) in Sabattini’s typical delicately streamlined style. He also designed metal, glass, and ceramic objects for Rosenthal, Nava, and Zani & Zani. In 1964 Sabatiini established his own silversmith studio at Bregnano, near Como. Throughout his career Sabattini expertly negotiated between art and design, well illustrated by Jon Howell’s beautiful yet utilitarian silver-plated vases with a flared foot from the 1970s (#1561). In the late 1970s and 1980s he created streamlined, ovoid-shaped sculptures in metal and plastic for the “23 Figure” series, such as “Périplo,” “Opus,” and “Entomo.” In 1994 he worked in monumental bronze sculpture, producing “Nefertiti,” as well as the Krustentier series. Sabattini was equally present at important design shows and notably exhibited at the Milan Triennale from 1954 to 1969. He won twenty gold medals, including one from the International Fair of Munich in 1962 and the Sole d’Oro at the International Exhibition of Silver in San Remo in 1965. Sabattini was the subject of a 2010 documentary by Gianluca Migliarotti and Porzia Bergamasco. His work is today conserved in museums such as MoMA, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, V&A, British Museum, Musée des arts décoratifs in Montreal, Neue Sammlung in Munchich, Museum für Kunst und Gewebe in Hamburg, and Grassimuseum Leipzig – Museum für Kunsthandwerk.
Alison Filippo, “Lino Sabattini,” Domus, no. 711, December 1989, 64-71.
Alison Filippo, L’Artidesign. Il case Sabattini. Neapel, 1991.
Sabine Epple, Made in Italy: Lino Sabattini: 45 Jahre Design in Silber. Leipzig: Museum für Kunsthandwerk, 1995.
Michael Collins, Towards Post-Modernism: Decorative Arts and Design since 1851. London: British Museum, 1987, 164.
Toni Lesser Wolf, “Sabattini, Lino,” in Design 1935-1965: What Modern Was. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1991, 397.
Kathryn B. Hiesinger, Design since 1945. London: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1983.
Carla Caccia and Anna Tolotti, Lino Sabattini [cat.]. Milan and Rome: Carlo Bestetti, 1972.