Gaetano Pesce with his Feltri chair, circa 1990.
Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94 Design

Design Icon Gaetano Pesce Passes Away at 84

The legendary creative constructed a fanciful oeuvre of works, from the voluptuous Up 5 chair to vessels, furniture, and lighting formed using colorful combinations of resin

Gaetano Pesce at work on the limited-edition ice bucket made for Flamingo Estate. Photo: Courtesy of Flamingo Estate

It’s nearly impossible to condense the groundbreaking career of legendary Italian designer Gaetano Pesce to just one signature piece. The artist, who passed away in New York on April 4 at age 84, conjured a vast array of exceptional works, many still in production and others celebrated in art and design museums around the globe.

“Each piece I do changes my view of the day after,” Pesce told Galerie in 2022. “When the experience is concluded, it allows me to pass to something else that usually is not opposite but almost opposite.”

Even decades after their debuts, his imaginative creations live on—his bulbous Up 5 chair and Up 6 ottoman are still in the collection of B&B Italia while his Tramonto, a cityscape turned modular sofa, is carried at Cassina. Other works, like his experimental Pratt chair, routinely appear in the exuberant interiors of art collectors.

A Gaetano Pesce chair perches near the bedroom’s fireplace, while an Arlene Shechet sculpture joins a Markus Amm painting next to the window. Photo: Tim Lenz. Styled by Lili Abir Regen

“The right one doesn’t exist, each one is right,” he told Galerie of the Pratt’s many iterations. “The number nine is right to tell rigidity is bad. The number one is right to tell that the body without bones is a disaster. The number four is telling comfort is necessary. The number two says the weight of the child is different from the weight of an adult. Each one has something to say, so there is no one better than another.”

Gaetano Pesce, “Dear Future” at the Goldwyn House, exhibition view. Photo: Rich Stapleton © The Future Perfect

While never out of the limelight, he saw a new wave of attention in recent years. In 2022, the Aspen Art Museum mounted Pesce’s first façade-spanning artwork with a survey of his drawings, sculpture, and furniture on display inside. The following year, Monacelli published Gaetano Pesce: The Complete Incoherence, a comprehensive monograph that chronicled the designer’s entire career in a free-flowing conversation between Pesce and the author, Glenn Adamson, while an exhibition of his drawings opened New York’s Galerie56.

It goes without saying that with his irreverent spirit that danced between art and design, Pesce leaves a remarkable legacy that will continue to influence and inspire for generations to come.

Cover: Gaetano Pesce with his Feltri chair, circa 1990.
Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94 Design


Sign up to receive the best in art, design, and culture from Galerie

Thank You
Your first newsletter will arrive shortly.