Carlo Mollino (1905 – 1973) Italian architect and designer

Carlo Mollino Automobile
Carlo Mollino Automobile

Carlo Mollino (1905 – 1973) was an Italian architect and designer. He was born in Turin.  

Today, Carlo Mollino seems just as important as when he was alive. The designer left his mark on the world of industrial design of the 20th century through one of a kind objects, incorporating new techniques and materials produced rather than batch productions in the form of collector’s items. With countless artists and designers following in the footsteps of an innovator who cherished craftsmanship over mass manufacturing, his reputation as an artisan lives today.

Education

He studied engineering; 1929, art history, at the Ghent art school.

Royal School of Architecture, University of Turin, to 1931. 

Biography

He began his career as an architect in his father’s office in Turin. Later he worked independently but stayed in his father’s office. 

His 1944 residence of Ada and Cesare Minola in Turin illustrated his ‘Streamline Surrealism’ style. His 194 7 ‘House of the Sun’ was built in Cervinia. His work contrasted with the more Rationalistic designs emerging from Milan at this time. Influenced by the organic forms reproduced in issues of Domus in the late 1940s, such as Henry Moore’s sculptures, his fantastic designs for furniture reflected these shapes.

Most of his essential furniture was made at the Apelli & Varesio joinery in Turin. He was also influenced by Antonio Gaudi’s works, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Charles Eames, Le Corbusier, and Alvar Aalto. He executed a series of glass tables with one-piece bent-plywood bases and chairs in organic forms. 

Style

He favoured organic forms, albeit dedicated to pursuing a contemporary design idiom, rather than the rectilinear forms often associated with the International Style and its Italian counterpart, Rationalism. Instead, he looked at sources such as Art Nouveau’s fluid lines, Futurism and modern Surrealism, several features that influenced the furniture designs he started working on from 1937 onwards. With countless artists and designers following in the footsteps of an innovator who cherished craftsmanship over mass manufacturing, his reputation as an artisan lives today.

Wide-ranging work

His wide-ranging work included aeronautics, art, photography, set design, town planning, teaching, automobile bodies, clothing, furniture, interior decoration, and architecture. Much of his furniture and furnishings was site-specific and one of a kind, executed in glass and bentwood (furniture), plastic rods (lamps), and industrial materials (shelving) in the late 1940s and early 1950s. A sense of decadent kitsch pervaded his work. He used natural and artificial light, mirrors, water, and giant images. 

Works

He designed; 

  • 1950-60 flats in Turin, 
  • 1950 house in San Remo, Teatro Regio in Turin 
  • Furnishings for a bachelor’s apartment in Turin
  • Furnishings for MUSA 
  • Housing and the Casa de Sole in Cervinia, 
  • The radio pavilion of the AGIP stand.
  • Exhibitions for art, sports and cars. 
  • 1950-60, he produced prototypes, few of which were manufactured. 
  • He patented articulated lamps with Birri, 
  • cupboard-and-panel systems, and cold-bent plywood (used in his furniture). 
  • He designed three-legged stools.
  • Fold-up and transforming furniture, and the 
  • 1954 Osca automobile. 

He was a member of ADI (Associazione per il Designo Industriale).

Works

Exhibitions

He showed his work at the;

  • 1954 (X) and 1957 (XI) Triennali di Milano. 
  • He won the Reed and Barton cutlery competition. 
  • A Mollino chair was-included in the 1983-84 ‘Design Since 1945’ exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 
  • His work was the 1989-90 exhibition ‘Carlo Mollino 1905-1973’ at Galerie du CCI, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris 1989-90. 

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Person. (2019, June 18). Carlo Mollino, the Provocateur Par Excellence. ELLE Decor. https://www.elledecor.com/it/best-of/a20652940/carlo-mollino-biography-eng/.

Woodham, J. M. (2006). A dictionary of modern design. Oxford University Press.

Additional Reading

Bosoni, G. (2008). Italian design. MoMA.

Burigana, A., & Ciampi, M. (2006). Italian designers at home. Seagull Books.

Celant, G., & Strauss, C. (2020). Radical: Italian Design 1965-1985: The Dennis Freedman Collection. The Museum of Fine Arts.

Lees-Maffei, G., & Fallan, K. (2014). Made in Italy rethinking a century of Italian design. Bloomsbury.

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    From 1977 to 1983, he worked as the chief editor of the design magazine Modo and as a consultant for the fashion magazine Donna. She designed interiors for Driade, Gianfranco Ferré, Montres and GFF Duty Free, Fontana Arte, Granciclismo sports machines, and Morassutti/Metropolis, as well as serving as an image and product consultant for the Croff/Rinascente chain. Read More →

  • Andrea Branzi (1938 – ) Italian furniture designer

    Andrea Branzi featured image

    His theoretical furniture is well-known. He formed Archizoom Associati, an avant-garde group in Florence, in 1966 (with Paolo Deganello and others) that brought the irony of 1960s Anti-Design to furniture design.Read More →

  • La Danese Italian domestic goods manufacturer

    La Danese domestic goods manufacturer

    La Danese was founded in Milan by Bruno Danese and Jacqueline Vodoz. The company specialised in editing, designing, and marketing well‐designed everyday products with a modern aesthetic. There were three significant focus areas: domestic and office products, artistic editions, and children’s games and creative play stimuli. Read More →

  • Studio Alchimia Italian design collaborative

    Proust Geometrica By Alessandro Mendini

    Studio Alchimia Italian design collaborative located in Milan. Alessandro Guerriero (b. 1943), an architect, created Studio Alchimia in 1976 as a gallery to show experimental work that was not limited by industrial production. Read More →

  • Masterpieces of Italian Design (hardcover)

    Masterpieces of Italian Design featured image

    Masterpieces of Italian Design. Design in Italy has always reflected the national identity of the Italians themselves: sexy, stylish, and innovative, and with more than a touch of audacity. No other country takes design so seriously, nor treats its leading practitioners with such reverence.Read More →

  • Gillo Dorfles (1910 – 2018) Italian art critic, painter, and philosopher

    Gillo Dorfles featured image

    Gillo Dorfles (1910 – 2018) was an Italian art critic, painter, and philosopher. He was born in Trieste and active in Milan.Read More →

  • Flavio Poli (1900 – 1984) Italian designer of glassware

    Flavio Poli red vase featured image

    Flavio Poli (1900 – 1984) was an Italian designer of glassware. He was born in Chioggia and worked in Venice professionally. He was born in 1900 and studied art at the Istituto d’Arte di Venezia before working as a ceramicist.Read More →

  • Italian Association for Industrial Design (ADI) (Associazione per il Disegno Industriale)

    Associazione-per-il-Disegno-Industriale

    The Association of Industrial Design (Associazione per il Disegno Industriale) (ADI) Since 1956, has brought together designers, companies, researchers, teachers, critics, journalists around the themes of Italian industrial design. It is the lead organisation of the development of industrial design as a cultural and economic phenomenon in Italy.Read More →

  • Gio Ponti (1891-1979) Italian designer, writer and teacher

    Gio Ponti featured image

    Gio Ponti was an influential writer, teacher, and practising architect who was one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century Italian design. In a long and illustrious career, he worked in a wide variety of design fields, from interiors to furniture and product design, understanding the value of craft traditions alongside creating a new aesthetic.Read More →

  • Domus (1928) magazine devoted to design & architecture

    Domus Magazine Cover

    Gio Ponti founded Domus in 1928, this journal devoted to architecture and design, originally named “L’ Arte della Casa,” has been at the forefront of design debate in Italy. In the 1930s, it was mainly concerned with a Novecento aesthetic, but it also paid attention to more radical tendencies, as Persico’s 1934 article “A New Start for Architecture” exemplifies. Read More →

  • Radical: Italian Design 1965–1985, The Dennis Freedman Collection

    Radical Italian Design 1965–1985 featured image

    Young Italian architects and designers started creating a new style that openly questioned Modernism in the mid-1960s in response to current social and political upheaval. This movement, known as “Radical design,” looked into ways to visually change the urban environment. The proponents of radical design also applied it to furniture and lighting, using unconventional materials and a novel formal vocabulary.Read More →

  • Superstudio: Life without Objects (Book)

    Superstudio featured image

    Superstudio, which was established in Florence in 1966, questioned the modernist orthodoxy that architecture and technological advancements could change the world by producing alternative future visions in photomontages, drawings, collages, and films. Read More →

  • Superstudio (1966 – 1978) Italian avant-garde design group

    Superstudio was an avant-garde architectural and design group that was closely linked to the Radical Design movement in Italy. Founded by Adolfo Natalini and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia in Florence in December 1966.Read More →

  • Italian Design (MoMA Design) Paperback

    Incorporating the Italian design industry and culture in a single-minded and spontaneous national image building project, Italian designers have produced a wide range of forms-fashion, graphic arts and product and set design-with a unique international resonance.Read More →

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Industrial Designer Archives – Encyclopedia of Design

Jasper Morrison is a British designer, and he was born and active in London. Education Between 1979-82 he studied at the Kingston School of Art and Design. Between 1982-85, Royal College of Art, London. Biography Morrison produced quirky, satiric, understated furniture. His 1986 South Kensington flat was widely published in

Steven Brooks American Industrial Designer – Encyclopedia of Design

Brooks Stevens was an American industrial designer. He was born in Wisconsin and was active in Milwaukee. He studied at Cornell University in Utica, New York. In 1933, to overhaul machinery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Stevens set up his workshop. In 1936 he designed the first electric clothes drier.

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