Over the course of the 1970s Gabriella Crespi was known as a glamorous and celebrated member of international society. She created interiors for clients and friends, including the Princess of Monaco, the Shah of Iran, the King of Saudi Arabia and countless other prominent individuals throughout Europe. Renowned for her Milan penthouse where she presented her modern furniture and design objects, there she incorporated mixed polished metals alongside natural materials such as bamboo and wood. Her creations continually balanced design with sculptural abstraction – mesmerising juxtapositions bred from her inspiration of the designs of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright.
It was during the 1950s that Gabriella’s career took off. During this time she created her steel moon series of sculptures and lighting objects. Entitled Small Lune Collection, these steel moon-shaped sculptures revealed her incorporation of the stylistic influences of time. During the early 1960s, Gabriella established a creative relationship with the Maison Dior, creating a variety of home and accessories objects for the French luxury brand. Always in search of the otherworldly as well as relationships between time and space, in 1968 Gabriella created the prototype of her first Plurimo – a series that derived its name as a tribute to Italian painter Emilio Vedova. Created in the manner of “metamorphic” furniture pieces with names such as Dama, Scultura, Magic Cube and 2000, the series played on the evolutionary possibilities of forms that change in space; forms that are in constant dialogue with light and their surroundings.
Desiring to devote herself entirely to her spiritual self, in 1985 Gabriella moved to India where she stayed for nearly 20 years in the care of her spiritual advisor, Sri Muniraji. In 2005 she returned to Italy where she designed jewellery for Stella McCartney, the profits of which were donated to a research hospital in the Himalayas under the guidance of Sri Muniraji. She proceeded with her furniture designs while remaining devoted to her daily meditation practice.
I Plurimi di Gabriella Crespi at Museo della Scienza e della Tecnica, Milan, September 1982. Courtesy of Archivio Gabriella Crespi
“My mother has been a great example and an important guide for my life,” says Elisabetta Crespi who also collaborated with her mother on various projects. “With her I learned to love beauty and nature, not to be afraid of challenges and to believe in life after death. She leaves me with an important task to carry on. I will continue to follow her production and the Archivio Gabriella Crespi that was founded in response to the vast circulation of counterfeit works, with the aim of protecting our collectors. I would like to conclude with a few words recently written about my mother’s works by the last journalist that could meet her in her home shortly before her death: ‘Her objects seem to be simple but they hide secrets and mystery, they seduce without completely revealing themselves…’”
An artist of exceptional originality and ideas, Gabriella’s designs have offered new ways of seeing contemporary design. Hers was a talent found through an ability to transform objects from mere functionality into quasi beings themselves – mysterious in essence and beauty and otherworldly in aura. Gabriella’s legacy is one that will live on as that of a pioneering artist, explorer and spiritual seeker.