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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    Adalberto Dal Lago is an Italian architect and designer: born and active Milan. He was an assistant, Facolta di Architettura, Politecnico di Milano from 1964-70 and subsequently chair of interior design and then of the elements of composition. He published books on design and Modern architecture. The European Council commissioned him and architect Marco Zanus to publish a postwar European design book. Read More →

  • Patricia Urquiola is a Spanish architect and designer

    Patricia Urquiola is a Spanish architect and designer

    Patricia Urquiola is a Spanish architect based in Milan. She distinguishes herself by her original designs of items and furniture for the finest and most significant international companies. She created the Maia series, one of her most typical works for Kettal, the designer of some of the most emblematic pieces of today’s selection. AD Design Award 2008 for architecture.Read More →

  • Piero Polato (b.1936) Italian Industrial Designer

    Piero Polato (b.1936) Italian Industrial Designer

    At ISIA, Urbano, Polato taught metallurgy. He wrote books about design education. Saiet, Avancart, Pellizzari, RAI, Televisione Svizzera Italiana, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Franco Rosso International, Fratelli Coppola, Furla, Mursia Editore, Robots, Zucchi, Il Bustese, and Muncherner Ruck were among his clientele. He was an ADI member (Associazione per il Disegno Industriale).Read More →

  • Italian Design Bibliography

    Italian Design Bibliography

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  • Carlo Mollino (1905 – 1973) Italian architect and designer

    Carlo Mollino (1905 – 1973) Italian architect and designer

    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.Read More →

  • Alfredo Simonit (b.1937) – Italian furniture designer

    Alfredo Simonit (b.1937) – Italian furniture designer

    Alfredo Simonit is an Italian designer. He was born in Romans d ‘Isonzo. Professionally active S. Giovanni al Natisone. Read More →

  • Gaetano Pesce (b.1939 ) Italian architect, designer and sculptor

    Gaetano Pesce (b.1939 ) Italian architect, designer and sculptor

    He established an office in Padua, where he became a founding member of Gruppo N in 1959. He experimented with programmed art and collaborated with Gruppo Zero in Germany, Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel in Paris (then known as Motus), and Gruppo T in Milan. Read More →

  • Emilio Pucci (1914 – 1992) Italian fashion designer

    Emilio Pucci (1914 – 1992) Italian fashion designer

    A leading figure in Italian fashion in the 1950s and 1960s, Pucci studied for a year at the University of Milan. In 1935 he travelled to the United States where he also studied, returning to the University of FlorenceRead More →

  • Marcello Minale (1938 – 2000) Italian designer

    Marcello Minale (1938 – 2000) Italian designer

    He worked as a designer at the Finnish advertising agency Taucker and as an art director at Mackkinointi Uiherjuuri. He was the design director at the Young and Rubicam advertising agency in London until 1964. He founded a design firm with Brian Tattersfield in 1964. Read More →

  • Giancarlo Pozzi (1924 – ) Italian Industrial Designer

    Giancarlo Pozzi (1924 – ) Italian Industrial Designer

    Pozzi’s professional career began in 1950. He worked with architect Alberto Rosselli from 1963 to 1967. From 1970 to 1974, he collaborated with Achile Castiglioni and the Ponti/Fornaroli/Rosselli Studio.Read More →

  • The Wit and Humour of the Gibigiana Table Lamp

    The Wit and Humour of the Gibigiana Table Lamp

    Castiglioni’s approach to design is characterised by wit and humour, which is portrayed here by a shape that resembles an animal or bird. The Gibigiana is a table light that may be adjusted. It includes a dimmer and produces reflected light. Read More →

  • Centre Pompidou Presents Retrospective on Designer Ettore Sottsass

    Centre Pompidou Presents Retrospective on Designer Ettore Sottsass

    Although he was largely known for founding the design group, Memphis Milano, Sottsass always reverted back to painting to free his senses. This liberation would frequently and characteristically appear in all the work he’d create throughout his life. Lamps, chairs, cabinets — anything that released the senses.Read More →

  • How the Memphis Design Movement Made a Comeback

    How the Memphis Design Movement Made a Comeback

    To call an armchair or a bookcase “revolutionary” might seem like a stretch, but for the design world, the original show of the Memphis design movement was as genuinely shocking as the first Sex Pistols performance. But unlike his revolutionary punk predecessors, Ettore Sottsass, this design moment’s founder, certainly knew the rules he was breaking when the Memphis group debuted in Milan 40 years ago.Read More →

  • ‘The New Domestic Landscape’ – MoMA’s ambitious design show 1972

    ‘The New Domestic Landscape’ – MoMA’s ambitious design show 1972

    THE NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE was one of The Museum of Modern Art’s most ambitious design shows.  The exhibition, directed and built by Emilio Ambasz, Curator of Design in the Museum’s Department of Architecture and Design, focused on current design trends in Italy with 180 items for everyday use and 11 environments commissioned by the Museum.Read More →

  • Flavio Conti Italian architect and designer

    Flavio Conti Italian architect and designer

    Flavio Conti is an Italian architect and designer; born Legnago, Verona; active Milan.  He studiedRead More →

  • Michele Provinciali (1921 – 2009) Italian Industrial Designer

    Michele Provinciali (1921 – 2009) Italian Industrial Designer

    He received the ADI’s Compasso d’Oro Award for his career in 2008. Michele Provinciali provides an alternative trend to the late rationalist approach typical of the postwar period in every art form. He is expressive, poetic, experimental, abnormal, and refined in every art form.Read More →

  • Luigi Massoni (b.1930) Italian Industrial Designer

    Luigi Massoni (b.1930) Italian Industrial Designer

    After a period of training at the Collettivo di Architettura in Milan and his first professional experiences between 1953 and 1955, he began his design career by making the cocktail shaker (1957, with Carlo Mazzeri) and the Serie 5 containers, which are still in production, for AlessiRead More →

  • The evolving designs of Arper | Design ♥︎

    The evolving designs of Arper | Design ♥︎

    Arper is the epitome of minimalist elegance and its products are perfectly suited to all kinds of commercial environments. With a growing range, we take a look at the latest offerings from the classic Italian house. Colour blocking made cool With classic arching armrests and a mix of materials that are perfectly colour matched, the Arcos brings an art deco edge.Read More →

  • Girly Feminine Pink Chair Furniture Designs 🌸

    Girly Feminine Pink Chair Furniture Designs 🌸

    The gentle tones wonderfully complement the comfy cushions, creating what the designer refers to as “uterine sensuality.” Memory foam is used to make the pillows, which reminds us of safety, rest, and the future in keeping with the design’s maternal motif. The base is composed of polished aluminium and is uneven in shape, much like the entire chair design. This is a must-see for everyone who likes one-of-a-kind items. Read More →

  • Federico Babina-designed posters get essence of famous directors ❤️

    Federico Babina-designed posters get essence of famous directors ❤️

    Can you name all of the movie allusions in this project? It’s general knowledge that filmmakers draw on their own experiences to create their work. Still, Federico Babina employed portraiture to remake them. Read More →

  • Luca Erba (b. 1984) Italian Designer & Architect

    Luca Erba (b. 1984) Italian Designer & Architect

    He creates projects spanning architecture to decor, interior design, and bespoke collections using thorough territorial, material, and formal research as the cornerstones of his creative process.Read More →

  • Echoes Chaise Longue by Christophe Pillet

    Echoes Chaise Longue by Christophe Pillet

    The Echoes S.H. chaise longue expresses a different stylistic interpretation by combining metal framework with cowhide: a traditional, eye-catching combination that, thanks to the ergonomic curves of the seat and backrest, also provides the utmost in comfort.Read More →

  • Tacchini stylish and functional Ottomans

    Tacchini stylish and functional Ottomans

    Tacchini aspires to improve the quality of home and public spaces with its furniture. As a result, Tacchini is always analysing and improving its products and services with zeal, inventiveness, and accountability. 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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