Understanding Aldo Tura in Three Furniture Pieces
Although he may not have been the most celebrated designers of Mid-Century Modern period in his day, the craftsmanship of Aldo Tura is being increasingly recognised in the United States and Europe. Perhaps it is the idiosyncratic way he developed pieces for particular clients that distinguishes him from other mid-century designers. Active in from the 1930s to the 1960s when industrial efficiency became the name of the game, Tura’s insistence on hand craftsmanship, vibrant colour and texture put him at the periphery of the modernist movement. Yet it is exactly the combination between old and new that makes him one-of- a-kind. His furniture pieces come in all shapes and forms, lightening spaces with an immediate sense of vitality and humour.
Perhaps the first thing that you notice about this cocktail cabinet is the side panel which highlights a work by the 16th-century Flemish artist, Pieter Bruegel. Given that they depict the merriment of a wedding dance, it is hardly surprising that Tura chose this subject matter for what is a party piece of furniture. Barware is a major category in Tura’s oeuvre. The flamboyant form he adopts is a clear sign of his upper class clientele and their hedonistic lifestyle, revelling among the ice buckets, carafes and cocktail shakers he created.
While pursuing an innovative aesthetic language in the pieces like his contemporaries, Tura isn’t afraid to look back. His creations can be read with less function, more hints of the old world. The rosewood body, brass fixings and lacquered parchment all look classical enough until you experience the majesty of the mirrored chamber within – something that marks it out as a truly modern piece. Practicality still finds a way to manifests itself through the brass gallery at the top, removable and serving as an impromptu serving tray.
Like the cocktail cabinet, this piece is all about entertaining in style. The chairs are designed for comfort and are backed with goatskin. Practical in a family home setting, the unit is nonetheless designed to cut a swathe in a dining room that is furnished to impress guests. With an ebonised base, the parchment table top is delightfully rendered and perfectly round, almost as if the maker had hewn it from a single piece of timber.
Parchment can be found in almost all of his works. Its sumptuous texture is unapologetically displayed in the table. The result is a naturalistic, tactile temperament echoed by the pointed horns of the chairs, a daring path less explored by other mid- century designers favouring simplicity.
If there is any doubt about Tura’s ability to pull off more modern looks, it should be put to an end by this exquisite lamps. Here he welds a clean silhouette with his favourite materials. Benefitting from lacquering, the goatskin boasts a sheen alongside the brass frame. Its ink wash-like pattern makes for the best embellishment over any manmade device.
Produced in the 1950s, this piece predates furniture in a similar style by the likes of Romeo Rega, Willy Rizzo and Gabriella Crespi, firmly recognised as “Modernist Glam” designers among the Mid-century Modern canon. Another magazine rack he designed was sometimes attributed to Gio Ponti. Compared to the widely celebrated architect- designer, Tura’s willingness to sacrifice productivity for human touch might lower his visibility in the industry. Nevertheless, it is unquestionable that his bold approach to design truly embraces the Modernist spirit.
Check out pieces by other Italian masters which complements Aldo Tura's furniture in interior spaces