Fortuny in the 21st Century

The 'Grand Manner' lives on...

Photograph by Erik Kvalsvik from Fortuny Interiors by Brian Coleman.  Reprinted with permission by Gibbs Smith.


From the curiosity and passion of one person – Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo – a design empire was created that encompassed fine arts, photography, theatrical design, lighting, fashion and textilesThe inventor, and the world he created over one hundred years ago, still thrives and advances today thanks to Maury and Mickey Riad, the brothers who operate his namesake firm.

Fortuny was a true innovator and inventor in so many ways.  His advances in technology in his day were groundbreaking.  He is, in essence, the creator of theatrical design as we know it today.  His revolutionary and iconic dome light was originally designed for the stage as a way to create unique lighting effects.  In his work he used the technology of the day to create methods to recapture the past as in the development of pleated silks used to create his legendary and provocative Delphos Gowns.

It’s exhilarating for the present design community to be reintroduced to the world of these historic textiles, which are still produced in the exact same manner as when Fortuny first designed and manufactured them in 1921.

Fortuny textiles are by far some of the most exquisite luxuries in our modern design world.  With their dedication to heritage, the Riad brothers have, in a sense, reintroduced a legend.  The wonderfully rich designs are again fresh and innovative in a world that has been focused on bland and safe.  From new colorations of classics, to never before produced designs from the archives (and several modern ones from the Fortuny design studio), the masters work and legacy flourishes.

All of this is made accessible through new technology created within the Fortuny organization.  The development of the Fortuny APP by Maury Riad is the key for a new generation of designers worldwide – who now have remarkably streamlined access to the treasure of the firms entire collection.

In addition, there is a new curatorial spirit at Fortuny.  The Riads have included other product lines with the Fortuny point of view which include lighting, l’objet and furniture which all seem to harken the Venetian spirit of exotic orientalism no matter where they are manufactured.  The artisanal genre is the common thread – furnishings of quality and hand craftsmanship synonymous with the Fortuny brand.



One of my all time favorite Fortuny fabrics is Barberini, which my firm has used in it’s most formidable coloration of grey and silvery gold (note the dining room pictured above).  The fabric was named for the Barberini Dynasty and is representative of the political clout and wealth that Italian aristocracy garnered through devious and corrupt means.  It’s exciting for me to look at my installation and see how a fabric can conjure up a narrative that complements my own story in the room.



In addition to Fortuny’s amazingly rich Renaissance inspired textiles, I am also fond of the simpler yet no less provocative designs such as Tapa, which is derived from a Polynesian bark cloth design.  When used in bright color ways it channels the exuberant textiles from the mid 20th century period.



Finally, there are brilliant early 20th century designs such as Girandole, added to the collection in fresh eye-popping color ways, and atypical design motifs which Fortuny himself never had the chance to produce.


Photograph by Erik Kvalsvik from Fortuny Interiors by Brian Coleman.  Reprinted with permission by Gibbs Smith.

A new design chronicle of the Fortuny fabric legacy was published this year, which my firm Beale-Lana Interior Design was fortunate to be included in.  It can be purchased through the company’s website.  For each book that is sold through the online link, $10 will be donated to The Littlest Lamb, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing safe, loving and supportive home for children in Egypt who have lost one or both parents.


Mariano Fortuny and the genius of his work will continue to delight historical design connoisseurs for many generations to come as his legend and innovative artistic spirit is brought to full light once again by Maury and Mickey Riad.

[NOTE:  For those readers who reside in New York Metropolitan area, there is a wonderful exhibition on Mariano Fortuny at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute at 684 Park Avenue in New York City opening November 30th.  The exhibition focuses on Fortuny’s Spanish heritage – primarily on his role as a fashion designer.   It’s a must see!  For more information log onto ]




12 thoughts on “Fortuny in the 21st Century”

    1. To the Riad and Fortuny Family, I would like to say that it was easy and a labor of love to write about you since I have such a “crush” on your beautiful product. In fact for a few years, I have been waiting for the opportunity to write about Fortuny and my chance has come!

  1. For those readers who reside in New York Metropolitan area, there is a wonderful exhibition on Mariano Fortuny at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute at 684 Park Avenue in New York City. The exhibition focuses on Fortuny’s Spanish heritage and primarily on his role as a fashion designer. It’s a must see! For more information log onto

    1. Carl, You are very welcome. I was honored to be able to write about the Fortuny legacy and help to share its message and to hopefully open up more discussion about this true Master.
      I am already working on other interesting topics to write about. so stay tuned!

  2. I can’t believe there is a Fortuny app – nice to see that they’ve embraced and changed with the times. Gorgeous workroom, too!

    1. It’s one of my favorite places (the NYC showroom) such an amazing vibe….I even have clients who like to visit it as often as they can!

    2. It’s is one of my favorite design destinations. the NY showroom has an amazing fresh vibe. I have clients who yearn to visit it whenever they are able!

  3. Well done Carl (Lana). I have never met a designer who was not a fan of Fortuny. It is nice to see them profiled in a contemporary way.

    1. Hi Connie! thank you for your support. this being my premiere article, what better entity to talk about than Fortuny Fabrics. they are one of my most treasured design resources. Carl (Lana)

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