Furniture Designer: Marco Zanuso born in Milano, Italy in 1916 was known for his imagination and innovative use of materials and design both as an Italian architect and furniture designer. As one of the driving forces behind the Modern Design movement, he began his architectural training at the Politecnicio di Milano University opening his own office in 1945. Serving as editor, first at Domus from 1047-49 and then at Casabella from 1952-56, he was able to develop and promote these theoretical ideas. He was also one of the founding members of ADI in the 1950’s, serving as an index for designers.
Mixing practice with academics, he was a professor of architecture, design and town planning at the Politiecnico from the late 1940’s to the 1980’s.
During this time he became known for his ability to design incorporating new techniques and unconsidered materials such as plastic. Through his experiments he found acceptance for his design pieces as well as a receptive consumer market. The Low-Cost Furniture competition sponsored by MoMA in 1948, was the first to show his work in which he designed a metal frame chair that used a breakthrough method to join the fabric seat to the frame.
In 1949, he was commissioned by Arflex, a division of Pirelli to produce a chair incorporating foam rubber upholstery named the “Antropus” chair. This prototype was released in 1949 followed by the “Lady” chair. Winning first place at the Milan Triennale in 1951, he went on to design a child’s chair made out of non-reinforced plastic.
This he did with German designer Richard Sapper. Their partnership started in 1957 with the chair being produced in 1961. Impressed with their playful use of the plastic material and color, they were hired as consultants to Brionvega in 1959, to apply their aesthetic sensibilities to the production of electronics . They hoped that through their designs they could gain a competitive edge over Japan and Germany.
Creating a style known as “techno-functionalism” they designed radios and televisions . “Doney 14” was the first completely transistor television, round and compact in style followed by a harbinger of the future cell phone. Placing both the dial and the earpieces together, it is best expressed in the “Grillo” , a folding phone designed for Siemens in 1966.
In 1972, MoMA staged an exhibition entitled “The New Domestic Landscape” which is continued until today. It was to serve to showcase designers who created anti-rational, imaginative and innovative products based on the new world of man-made materials such as plastic. Marco Zanuso and his partner Richard Sapper designed a series of dwellings for this exhibit that were produced as stackable units. Unfolded, they became a living area complete with all of the facilities and many of the accessories needed for a small apartment. They were designed with the idea that they could easily be transported providing for immediate living quarters.
With an extensive list of his works created until his death in 2001, they can be viewed at the Museum of modern Art in New York, Triennale Milano, Triennale Tokyo, Vitra Museum Arflex Museum and the Kartell Museum.
His pieces designed for Arflex include the “Lady” chair (1951), the “Martingala” armchair (1952), the “Tripoltrona” sofa (1952), the “Sleep-o-matic” (1954) and the “Woodline” and “Fourline” armchairs (1964). The “Lady”, the “Tripoltrona” and the “Sleep-o-matic” are on display at the Medaglia d’Oro Triennale.
Pieces designed for Brionvega included The “Doney” television (1962), “Algol” television (1964), Redio TS 502 (1965) and the “Black” television (1969).
Additional work includes, the “Lambda” chair (1960) with Richard Sapper, a 1963 car for Alfa Romeo, “K4999” a child’s chair (1964) for Kartell, the “Grillo” telephone (1966) for Siemens, the “Marcuso” table (1970) for Zanotta and the “Hastil” pen (1970) for Aurora.
Architectural works include the Olivetti buildings (1955) in Buenos Aires and San Paolo, the IBM building in Milano (1974) and the New theatre Piccolo teatro also in Milano in 1998.