Victor Magistretti featured image
Victor Magistretti featured image

Vico Magistretti (1920-2006) was an Italian architect, furniture designer, and interior decorator.

Education

In 1945, Magistretti received his architecture degree from Milan University and began working in his father’s practice. 

Biography

He began designing furniture in the 1960s and has since collaborated with various manufacturers, including Knoll International and Cassina. His work can be found in the permanent design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The Selene all-plastic chair, produced by Artemide in 1968, the Maralunga sofa (Cassina, 1973), and the Villabianca chairs are among Magistretti’s notable designs (Cassina, 1985). He received the Compasso d’Oro in 1967 and 1979, a gold medal at the 9th Milan Triennale, and the International Jury’s first prize at the Cologne Furniture Fair in 1982. Some of his work, such as the 1986 Cardigan sofa, has been criticised as boring. Others see it as a measured attempt to serve the domestic landscape rather than bawling egotistically in it.

Magistretti’s early classics, such as the Modello 115 chair (Cassina 1964), harken back to 19th-century Italian vernacular design. The red-painted wooden frame of the Modello 115 is complemented by rush seating. It exemplifies how, despite its reputation for radicalism, postwar Italian design emphasises continuity with tradition rather than rupture with the past.

Recognition

  • From 1948 to 1954, he competed in almost all of the Triennali di Milano, winning first prize in 1948 (VIII) and 1954 (X) and a gold medal in 1951 (IX).
  • He was awarded the Comune di Milano’s silver medal in 1957 and the Vis prise in 1950.
  • Premio Compasso d’Oro in 1967 (Eclisse table lamp), 1973 (Maralunga chair), 1977 (Atollo lamp), and 1979 (Gaudi chair); 
  • Gold medal, Society of Industrial Artists and Designers, 1986.
  • In 1983, he was made an honorary member of the Royal College of Art in London and the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

Exhibitions

His work has been included in the following exhibitions:

  • 1972 ‘Milano 70/70: Un secolo d’arte’ exhibition at the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan, 
  • 1972 ‘Design a Plastické Hmoty’ exhibition at the Uméleckoprimyslove Muzeum in Prague, 
  • 1979 ‘Design Process Olivetti: 1908—1978 exhibition at the Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery in Los Angeles, 
  • 1984 ‘Design Since 1945’ exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and 
  • 1991 ‘Mobili Italiani 1961-1991: Le Varie Eta dei linguaggi’ exhibition in Milan.

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The Design Encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Dormer, P. (1999). The illustrated dictionary of twentieth century designers: the key personalities in design and the applied arts. Greenwich Ed.

Advertisements

Design Books – Amazon

* This website may contain affiliate links, and I may earn a small commission when you click on links at no additional cost.  As an Amazon and Sovrn affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

More Italian Designers

  • Enzo Mari (1932 -2020) Italian modernist, industrial designer

    Enzo Mari (1932 -2020) Italian modernist, industrial designer

    Graduating Table Bowls In 1956, he became interested in design, particularly books and children’s games. In 1957, he began working for Danese, for whom some of his designs and ideas for games and puzzles, including the 1957 wooden child’s puzzle, were realised.Read More →

  • Vico Magistretti (1920 – 2006) Italian architect/designer

    Vico Magistretti (1920 – 2006) Italian architect/designer

    In 1920 Vico Magistretti was born in Milan, Italy. First recognition of his work came in 1948, at the 8th Triennale. He started designing for Cassina in 1960, and from that date on his signature is to be found on many products.Read More →

  • Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007) Father of Anti-Design

    Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007) Father of Anti-Design

    Although trained and active as an architect, Sottsass secured a permanent place in pop culture with his designs of everyday items. From 1957, he was a consultant designer at Olivetti, where he designed computers, adding machines, typewriters, and systems furniture. Read More →

  • Gianni Pasini (b.1937) Italian Designer – Electronic Machinery

    Gianni Pasini (b.1937) Italian Designer – Electronic Machinery

    Gianni Pasini was born in 1937 in Venice and professionally active in Milan. Some of his clients were Olivetti, Fabbrica Italiana, Magneti Marelli, and Crin hospital. He worked with Sandro Pasqui in a design studio from 1974 onwards.Read More →

  • Harry Bertoia (1915 – 1978) Italian sculptor, furniture designer

    Harry Bertoia (1915 – 1978) Italian sculptor, furniture designer

    Harry Bertoia was a sculptor, printmaker, jeweller, and furniture designer. He was born in San Lorenzo, Udine, and worked in the United States professionally. During World War Two he worked with Ray and Charles Eames on moulded-plywood technology. He worked primarily as a sculptor from the mid-1950s onwards. His sculpture was prominently featured in many of Eero Saarinen’s buildings.Read More →

  • Antonia Astori (b.1940) Italian designer co-founded Driade

    Antonia Astori (b.1940) Italian designer co-founded Driade

    Antonia Astori co-founded Driade with her brother Enrico and Adelaide Acerbi in 1968. She was able to create a unique network of furniture designers, galleries, and shops.Read More →

  • Memphis Group – it has little to do with Tennessee

    Memphis Group – it has little to do with Tennessee

    Memphis was a movement in interior design introduced at the annual Milan Furniture Fair in 1981. It consisted of a group led by Memphis guru Ettore Sottass of avant-garde Italian designers. With outrageous interpretations of traditional furnishings and accessories, Memphis shocked the traditionally quiet industry.Read More →

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

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

    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 →

  • Zanussi Italian manufacturer and design firm

    Zanussi Italian manufacturer and design firm

    Antonio Zanussi established the household appliance firm in Pordenone in 1916. It was initially a workshop for repairing stoves. His sons and Guido and Lino took over on his death in 1946, and under them, the firm began its rise. Read More →

  • Archizoom avant-garde Italian design studio

    Archizoom avant-garde Italian design studio

    Four architects—Andrea Branzi, Gilberto Corretti, Paolo Deganello, Massimo Morozzi—and two designers—Dario Bartolini and Lucia Bartolini—founded Archizoom this Italian avant-garde design studio in 1966 in Florence, Italy. They focused on exhibition installations and architecture and designing interiors and goods as part of the Italian Anti-Design or Radical Design movement.Read More →

  • Matteo Thun (b.1952) Italian ceramicist and designer

    Matteo Thun (b.1952) Italian ceramicist and designer

    We reject design as an issue of taste! We follow a different strategy: Simplicity. We always search for the iconic form and create things that people can understand intuitively. We, Read More →

  • George Sowden – British/Italian Designer

    George Sowden – British/Italian Designer

    George James Sowden is a British designer. He was born in Leeds and active Italy. Between 1960-64 and 1966-68, he studied architecture, Gloucester College of Arts. Read More →

  • Alessandro Mendini (b.1931) Italy’s famous design thinker

    Alessandro Mendini (b.1931) Italy’s famous design thinker

    Alessandro Mendini (b.1931) played an important part in the development of Italian, Postmodern, and Radical design. He was co-founder of Studio Alchymia (with Alessandro and Adriana Guernero) in 1976. He was awarded several international prizes, including the Compasso d’Oro in 1979, 1981, and 2014. In 2011, he was awarded with the title Doctor Honoris Causa of the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan.Read More →

  • The Olivetti Lettera 22 Typewriter – Lightweight and Compact

    The Olivetti Lettera 22 Typewriter – Lightweight and Compact

    Olivetti’s 1950 Olivetti 22 typewriter became the standard for portable typewriters. Marcello Nizzoli’s Typewriter won the Compasso d’Oro at the 10th Triennale in Rome in 1951. Ettore Sottsass would further develop this design in the 1964 Teckne 3.Read More →

  • Proust Armchair (1978) –  Luxury Comes in All Forms

    Proust Armchair (1978) – Luxury Comes in All Forms

    The Studio Alchimia in Milan was founded in 1976 and exhibited its first collection in 1979. Alessandro Mendini’s Proust armchair is one of the most unusual pieces from the Bau.Haus collection. It was made in a small number and individually painted to express the collective’s unease with mass production.Read More →

  • Halogen bulbs revolutionised home lighting.

    Halogen bulbs revolutionised home lighting.

    The halogen bulb is the first new invention to completely transform the lighting industry since Thomas Alva Edison succeeded in creating the incandescent lamp by successfully making a loop of carbonized cotton thread glow in a vacuum for 40 hours.Read More →

  • Marco Zotta (b.1945) Italian industrial designer

    Marco Zotta (b.1945) Italian industrial designer

    He designed furniture and furnishings, lighting for clients including Fargas, Le Cose, Studio Grando, Stilnovo and Evoluzione. He became a member of ADI (Associazione per il Disegno Industriale).Read More →

  • Marcello Piacentini (1881 – 1961) Italy’s Fascist Architect

    Marcello Piacentini (1881 – 1961) Italy’s Fascist Architect

    Marcello Piacentini (1881–1961) was an Italian urban theorist and one of the leading proponents of Italian Fascist architecture.Read More →

  • Pietro Chiesa (1892 – 1948) 🇮🇹 Italian furniture and glassware

    Pietro Chiesa (1892 – 1948) 🇮🇹 Italian furniture and glassware

    He was an apprentice in the studio of Giovan Battista Gianotti, painter, furniture designer, and decorator; in 1921, opened Bot- tega di Pietro Chiesa, Milan; in 1927, (with Gio Ponti, Michele Marelli, Tomaso Buzzi, Emilio Lancia, and Paolo Venini) founded Il Labirinto, which produced high-quality glassware. Read More →

  • Livio Castiglioni (1911 – 1979)  🇮🇹 Italian industrial designer

    Livio Castiglioni (1911 – 1979) 🇮🇹 Italian industrial designer

    In 1938, Castiglioni and his brother Pier Giacomo Castiglioni set up a studio with Luigi Caccia Dominioni, which closed in 1940. Read More →

You may also be interested in

Antonio Citterio (1950 – ) Italian furniture designer – Encyclopedia of Design

Antonio Citterio (1950 – ) is a leading Italian architect and interior designer, furniture and industrial designer. Citterio explored the possibilities of new materials and technologies rather than aligning himself with New Design’s more fashionable aesthetics. Citterio has designed for several leading manufacturers, including B&B Italia, Kartell, Flos and Vitra, and its work and outlook is well known internationally.

More design articles

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.