AROUND HOME : Corner Cabinet

ROSENTHAL IS A familiar name to buyers of fine china and crystal. For that firm, Milanese designer Marcello Morandini has created the Morandini Alphabet line of Rosenthal china; wearing his architect hat, he designed Rosenthal's headquarters in West Germany. He also designs carpets, which were hailed in a recent issue of the Italian design periodical Abitare as some of the most original of our time. Heretofore, Morandini has been an unknown quantity on this side of the Atlantic, but his new Corner shelving unit should end that obscurity.

Corner presents an ingenious solution to an old problem. When traditional shelving turns a corner, part of the shelving becomes inaccessible. By angling the uprights so that books stand at varying angles, Morandini was able to avoid such wastage. Indeed, the 7-foot-tall unit, which lists for about $4,100, stands only 11 inches from the wall, yet can accommodate 15-inch-deep books. A witty touch is the set of six storage drawers with bright, primary-color rectangles that play off against the frame's monochrome minimalism. The effect intentionally mimics the work of early 20th-Century Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, whose brightly colored rectangles within black grids still inspire graphic artists.

But calling Corner a shelving unit hardly does it justice: Finished on all sides, the piece also makes a stunning room divider. The complex shadows cast by all those 45-degree angles, the various zigzag and stepped shapes of the shelves and the overall effect of Corner's complicated geometry make it a lovely sculptural object. Says Massoud Amini, whose Massini showroom imports Rosenthal furniture to North America: "Half of our clients buy Corner to use as a bookshelf; the rest want it as a room divider for, say, their kitchen-dining area."

Corner units can be seen at the Massini showroom in the Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles; telephone (213) 652-1060.

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