Celebrated for inventing a new romanticism, the Paris-based design duo Garouste & Bonetti became recognised as international players in the art/design market from the 1980s to the late 90s. Their furniture is extraordinarily inventive, unconventional and quirky but with grandeur, wit and a subtle brilliance. There is a history of furniture woven into their designs, but they remain uniquely avant-garde – revolutionary in their disregard for many of the leading principles of 20th century decorative arts. The principles that viewed ornamentation as a crime and retained a lasting attachment to the classic, refined French aesthetic. In an interview they likened their studio to a laboratory of Haute Couture: ‘Our hope is to give people the feeling of freedom in the choice of forms. Good taste really bothers us a lot. What we care about is implanting doubt. We don’t have any rules.’ Their most memorable works have a dazzling, fanciful aspect – surreal and a bit eccentric, but whimsically so. For all this, they have remained ardently dedicated to craftsmanship.
Elizabeth Garouste studied interior architecture at the École Camondo, Paris. She designed stage sets and costumes for Jean-Michel Ribes and worked in the fashion business before partnering with Bonetti in 1981. Swiss-born designer Mattia Bonneti received his formal training in textiles at the Centro Scolastico per l’Industria Artistica in Lugano. He has worked as an interior and product designer, as well as a photographer, and has a studio in Paris. After joining David Gill Galleries in 1988, Garouste & Bonetti designed a series of impressive collections – showing a creative vision that was surprising and magnificent. In 1991 they were named Designers of the Year at the International Furniture Fair.