Carlo Zen, ‘Writing desk’, ca. 1902, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Link to the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum object page

Image rights: Image provided by the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Manufacturer: Carlo Zen

About Carlo Zen

At the turn of the 20th century, Carlo Zen was the owner of the largest furniture workshop in Milan. Under his direction the firm created ornate pieces in the Stile Floreale, the Italian version of Art Nouveau. Like Art Nouveau in France, Zen’s Italian style showcased luxurious handcraft and materials like inlaid metal threads, mother of pearl, brass, and gold leaf. A typical piece from Zen’s workshop would feature sensually curving wooden lines decorated with Asian-inspired flowers or exotic motifs like inlaid palm trees and a gold leaf sun. His son, Piero Zen, was also a furniture designer.

Italian, 1851-1918