Modern design and furniture has evolved over the last several hundred years as major influences from Europe changed the dynamics of contemporary furniture. While German, Japanese and Swedish furniture designers had strong influence on the shift from only wooden and carved furniture designs, usually with ornate marquetry or parquetry to create designs in the wood, modern Italian furniture and its designers wielded some of the great influence. And still today, Italian furniture designers are some of the leading creators of modern furniture.
With the advent of the Industrial revolution, furniture creators were able to begin experimenting with different types of materials other than wood to create lightweight, unique furniture. It was in the late 19th century that contemporary furniture designers really sparked ingenuity in materials. One of the greats born during this time were Franco Albini, who has been described as a furniture design purist who excelled in what was called rational architecture. At the turn of the century, the desire to create a rational work environment led engineers, architects and designers on a different design movement as the industrial revolution created efficiency in design and machines that transformed the way humans performed work.
Albini was one of these designers who used the machinery to create modern Italian furniture. Born in Robbiate, close to Italy’s famous city, Milan. Albini was a student and graduate of Milan Polytechnic University before working with another contemporary furniture designer Gio Ponti. He was well known for stacking and folding chairs, but really became well known in the modern furniture design world for his Margherita chair, Gala chair, Fiorenza chair, Luisa chair and the Rocking Chaise. He later focused more on architecture, but is only one of the many great designers of the time.
Gio Ponti, who Albini worked with, is one of the most famous Italian furniture designers of the modern world. While he was primarily an architect, Ponti brought great influence to modern furniture designers. Ponti was best known for his chairs, in particular the Distex armchair, his “Due Foglie” sofa, glass bottles and unique lamps as well as ceramic accessories and a line of home furniture. His Superleggera (SuperLight) chair was also another well-known design created by this furniture designer.
Ponti, however, is only one of many Italian furniture designers that have influenced modern furniture designers. A strong focus on detail, quality and design bring strength to Italian furniture. Italian furniture, with its Baroque accents, is still popular with Classic, Tuscan, Renaissance and modern contemporary furniture designers today.
Modern furniture design still brings a strong influence from designers such as Ponti and Albini who helped transition the industry to a different type of design. Following the rational trend was Piero Bottoni, a Milanese architect who also graduation from Milan Polytechnic. He had his hand in multiple Italian furniture design projects in addition to building projects. He participated in many events across Italy as the new generation really began changing furniture design. He focused heavily on creating new designs for what he termed a “rational home.” Bottoni regularly sought to create new pieces of modern furniture in designs that were quckly becoming more and more functional in design yet the form was still remaining a piece of art.