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September 22, 2006

Expressive Modernism Loses Major Designer

Designer Sergio Savarese, who founded with his wife modern furniture store Dialogica, died Friday September 15th in a plane crash in Colorado.

The following is the story as reported by Barbara Graustark in The New York Times.

Sergio Savarese, a designer known for lyrical shapes and a founder of the furniture store Dialogica, died on Friday in a small-plane crash in Moffat County, Colo., that also took the life of his flying companion, Ivan Luini, according to their families. Mr. Savarese was 48 and lived in Manhattan and Southampton, N.Y.

The two men co-owned a plane registered to East End Aviation in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., and often traveled cross-country, visiting their respective stores, according to family members.

In 1988, working with his wife, Monique, an interior designer, Mr. Savarese created Dialogica, one of the first retailers in SoHo to feature contemporary furniture designs. They developed Dialogica into a multimillion-dollar business, with stores in Los Angeles and New York, and distributors in other cities.

Mr. Savarese's expressive and sculptural silhouettes and his wife's bold use of color helped mark a new informality in contemporary design -- a break from the spare or historical aesthetics that were popular in the late 80's. Tailored velvet sofas, chairs and daybeds commanded cheerful attention with yellow, crimson or cerulean blue upholstery, with colors mixed together in a single piece .

Mr. Savarese was born in Naples and moved to Rome. He was, his wife said, a designer by accident. He studied as a geologist and spent seven years working for health organizations in Africa, analyzing soil to determine what crops to grow. Returning to Italy, he designed a folding stool, found someone to produce it, and then expanded his collection. He met his future wife, who was studying at Domus Academy in Milan, and they married in 1987.

They drew praise at the first International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York, which encouraged them -- despite no retail experience -- to risk opening a store on Broome Street in SoHo, alongside a handful of design pioneers like Ad Hoc Software and Murray Moss. They produced furniture in the Bronx, ultimately selling the factory to the artisans who continue to make the furnishings today.

Their emphasis on strong sensual forms that reinterpreted classical styles, and the vibrant colors, struck a popular chord. ''They gave a legitimacy to expressive modernism, a different door of the modern movement,'' Arlene Hirst, a senior editor of Metropolitan Home magazine, said yesterday. ''Their style was romantic, and they have stayed with that one design vocabulary, which is very appealing to people who don't like the hard edges of modern design.''

In addition to his wife, Monique, Mr. Savarese is survived by their twin 9-year-old sons, Luca and Matteo; his mother, Adriana Sora; a sister, Rita Fradelloni; and a brother, Sati Savarese, all of whom live in Rome.

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Comment on This Article Here! Expressive Modernism Loses Major Designer:

I was looking for a Chrome Plater in Chicago, and came across your blog. I have Bookmarked it, and plan to return often. Take a look at the work that I do- it may be of interest to you and your readers. Thanks, Randall Kramer-Kramer Design Studio, Chiago, ILL.

Posted by: Randall Kramer | Sep 28, 2006 10:19:56 AM

Really sad news. I have seen some of the stuff in Dialogica and found it to be great.

Posted by: Carol | Nov 6, 2006 2:45:54 PM

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