Carlo Mollino lived his life in the same manner as he described it should be lived, “Everything is permissible as long as it is fantastic.” He was known for his architecture as well as his designs in modern furniture setting a world record for the highest price paid for a piece of furniture in 2005. The oak and glass table he designed for one of his interiors project, Cassa Orengo in Turin, 1949, sold for $3,824,000.
Living his entire life in Italy, he was born in 1905 in Turin, Piedmont. His interests were as varied as his abilities covering the range from race cars and the occult to design and architecture including an avid interest in photography particularly regarding women. Even though his life was short, he died in 1973, he left behind a colorful and exuberant portfolio of both built and unbuilt projects. Starting his architectural career in 1930, he worked in his father’s office from 1933 until 1948 winning the G. Pstono prize for designing a house in Fort dei Marmi.
He designed the Società Ippica Torinese building in Turin in collaboration with Vittorio Baudi di Selve between 1936 and 1939. His love of skiing motivated him to design several mountain homes as well as write a book about his skiing techniques inclusive of illustrations. Perhaps his most intriguing is Casa Mollino that he decorated as his private pyramid with the things he was to take with him to his afterlife. This was guided by his fascination with tomb of the Egyptian royal architect “kha”.
He continued to design many important buildings in Italy as well as interior projects designing furniture specific to the interiors projects that he was working on. In 1951, he designed a table that appears to have a floating glass top above a base that is organic and skeletal nature. It was typical for him to include some element of the figure or form of the human body. While understanding the tenets of neo-plasticism and rationalism that are integral to furniture design, he interpreted it in creative and unorthodox ways that allowed for both the designers and users manipulation.
The table in 1949, the “Arabesco table” was a precursor to his later designs using a free form glass as the table’s top along with an organic and undulating base secured in three seemingly precarious locations. The roll top desk designed the following year rests upon legs that appear to be ready to walk away at a moment’s notice. The chair and stool designed for the Lutario Dance Hall in 1959, is minimalist, quirky and defined simultaneously. Most of his furniture designs were produced by Apelli & Varesio Joinery in Turin.