It's a funny thing, celebrity. Thanks to the proliferation of media (not least the blogosphere) more designers are becoming more famous than ever: Starck, Lovegrove, Bouroullec, Arad, Wanders, Campana, Grcic, Norguet, Jongerius ? the list goes on and on. And yet, one of the most gifted designers of the present generation, Mattia Bonetti, remains relatively unknown beyond the inner circle design aficionados and collectors.
Rather than designing for big-name brands, pieces that will be heavily promoted and sold in their thousands (all being well), the Swiss-born, Paris-based Bonetti stays under the radar, creating one-offs for private clients and limited-edition pieces that are sold through specialist dealers. What's more, unlike many of the current crop of star designers, his work doesn't carry an instantly recognisable signature; in form, material and stylistic influences, it is hugely varied - sometimes playful, occasionally with a touch of the surreal and, just as often, restrained, elegant and timeless.
Take this Alu console, which was first presented at a one-man show at David Gill Galleries in London in 2007. Like most of his work, it straddles the gap between design and art. As much a sculpture as a piece of furniture, it's almost monumental in its simplicity, yet its polished aluminium surface makes it appear weightless and ethereal. The shape is extraordinarily pleasing to the eye, with its mix of curved planes and straight lines and the proportions are, simply, beautiful. (It stands a metre high and measures 169cm across, by the way.) The fact that it is a limited edition, of course, makes it all the more special; only 20 pieces, plus two prototypes and two artist's prototypes have been made.
Alu console by Mattia Bonetti, at David Gill Galleries, London. www.davidgillgalleries.com, + 44 20 7793 1100. As with all collector's pieces, prices fluctuate according to the market. Expect to pay about £35,000 (Dh210,000) upwards. The ceramic sculpture on the console is from a collection by Barnaby Barford, also at David Gill.