Paolo Buffa Palisander Wood Italian Sideboard circa 1940
The striking design of this sideboard is attributed to the famous Italian designer Paolo Buffa. Known for his exotic and sometimes eccentric designs he began his career in 1927 under the direction of famed architect and designer Gio Ponti. Together and separately they transformed twentieth century Italian design by taking references from the past and reinventing them by the use of proportion and scale to create a modernist aesthetic. Neoclassical in inspiration, this mahogany sideboard is inlaid with satinwood with a stylized anthemion placed in the centre of each of the three middle doors with the foliate frieze beneath the top also defined with satinwood inlay. The frieze continues along both sides as well as the front and helps define the undulating shape of the sideboard. The three cabinet doors are each defined by four sections of straight grain mahogany placed to create a square pattern and appear to be stained light and dark colours. The change in appearance is the result of turning the mahogany so it runs perpendicular and therefore captures the light in a distinctly different manner. Notice that the centre door has a key and escutcheon placed directly in the middle at the top while the doors that flank the centre have their keys and escutcheons in the respective upper left and upper right. When the lock is released on the centre door it opens out and down to reveal a series of five recessed drawers each affixed with a bronzed knob that are completely hidden when the centre door is closed. The far left and right cabinet doors may only be opened when the doors that flank the centre are released and an iron catch is available to be opened. The shape of these outer doors is quite distinctive with a defined angled curve across the façade. The same curved shape appears on each side of the sideboard and both together give the sideboard a commanding and intriguing appeal. Set directly beneath the five cabinet doors is the frieze with its band of decorative inlay of satinwood depicting a trailing vine with fully opened leaves. The contrast between the mahogany background and the satinwood inlay is marvelous and quite a surprise with the angularity of the cabinet itself. Please notice that the frieze is set slightly back from both the cabinet section as well as the four legs and this slight change in profile creates an interesting visual effect. All four legs have a tapered shape and are also inlaid with satinwood in a pattern of stringing that emphasizes the verticality of the legs. At the tapered end of each leg is a brass sleeve known as a "sabot" after the French word for shoe that protects the precious timber from any damage should it be bumped. The top of the sideboard is perfect for serving delectable food as it is covered with a piece of black vitreous glass that presents an almost impervious surface. The black colour is a dramatic complement to the mahogany and satinwood of this vintage Italian sideboard while offering an exceptional level of functionality.
WIDTH: 94½ in | HEIGHT: 39½ in | DEPTH: 21 in
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