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Vico Magistretti: The Father of Italian Design

From space lamps to furniture designs and elaborate architectural façades. The Vico Magistretti philosophy rings true, 'to be truly contemporary, one must always have a hand in the past and a hand in the future.'

His pieces are characterized by bright colours, clean, unembellished lines, playful use of homely objects, and often witty reinterpretations of familiar designs from the past and innovative experimentation with materials and space solutions from the future.

Magistretti created a range of pieces that became immediate icons—receiving numerous international design awards, the Gold Medal at Triennale in 1951, the Grand Prix at the 1954 Triennale, and two Compasso d'Oro awards. An Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art, his Furniture, lamps, and other objects can be found all over the world, and the most recognised design museums have given exhibitions in his honour and retain examples of his work in their permanent collections.

Magistretti was at the vanguard of a postwar Italian group of designers, the BBPR, who helped define the sleek, nonchalant look of the post-war Italian design and the Swinging Sixties.

Take a closer look at the founding father of Italian design, his harmonious work, and high concept furnishings.

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About Vico Magistretti FurnitureVico Magistretti was firm in his beliefs: there is no excuse for bad design.

Ludovico Magistretti, nicknamed Vico, was born into a family of architects in Milan, Italy 1920. His great-grandfather Gaetano Besia built the Collegio delle Fanciulle, and his father Pier Giulio Magistretti colloboarted on the Palazzo dell’Arengario on the Piazza del Duomo.

He was to become the new generation of Milanese architects in the Magistretti family and the father of Italian design.

Following his family heirloom, Vico studied architecture at the Milan Politecnico. During the second world war, Magistretti fled to Switzerland to escape military deportation from the Germans. It was here at 23 years old he would meet his most significant role model and mentor, Ernesto Nathan Rogers. A humanist architect, refuge, and key figure of post-war Italian architecture, Ernesto substantially influenced Vico's professional career and design aesthetic.

From 1927 till 1932, Rogers attended the architecture school at the Politecnico, where, together with Banfi and Belgiojoso, he befriended Enrico Peressutti (1908–76). Just before graduation, in 1932, they met Giuseppe Pagano, then already Editor-in-Chief of Casabella, who noted the group's talent and promise, thus starting an influential mentorship.

Enrico was the first to notice the talent of the fantastic four, and soon after, an influential mentorship began under Milan's BBPR name, which stands for each first initial of the four members.

Ernesto had already started preparing architecture students for new perspectives in urban development and planning after the post-war period in the second world war. Many of Milan's architects, including the BBPR four, sought modern forms of expression in the fascist state.

With a desire to rebuild run-down Milan, Vico returned in 1945 to complete his architecture degree and began working at his father's company with the architect Paolo Chessa.

In his early years, he collaborated on villa designs, Arosio house, Azzate the Bassetti house, Tokyo's Tanimoto house, and finally, the apartment building at Piazza San Marco. Surprisingly, he's not well known for his architecture.

In 1959, Magistretti created numerous lamps and furniture that became instant icons. Turning his skilled hand to lighting and iconic furniture designs, he debuted his most famous piece, the Carimate Chair.

Experimenting with shape, form, and function, each piece Magistretti designed was ahead of its time. From the Eclisse Lamp to the Teti Wall Light and the maralunga sofa design for Cassina, his work has been featured in exhibitions and permanent collections in museums all over the world, including New York's MoMA.

Magistretti's research has been continuous - into the design, project culture, and innovative experimentation with materials and space solutions, not to mention shapes and functions far from the rigors of fashion that they have passed through during the years.

From Italy with love, bring some charm, history, and faded elegance into your home with Vico's harmonious collection.


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