Mid Century Coffee Table by Paolo Buffa
Mid Century Coffee Table by Paolo Buffa

The annals of mid-century Italian design would be incomplete without mention of Paolo Buffa, whose works seamlessly amalgamated the aesthetics of tradition with the vigour of modernity. Born in Milan in 1903, Buffa emerged as one of the most compelling architects and furniture designers of his era. Trained at the Polytechnic Institute of Milan, Buffa was apprenticed under the eminent Italian architect and designer Gio Ponti, further sharpening his design sensibilities.

Educational Background and Early Influences

Buffa studied at the prestigious Polytechnic Institute of Milan, an institution known for producing some of Italy’s most prominent architects and designers. The rigorous training provided by the institute laid the groundwork for Buffa’s later success.

Mentorship Under Gio Ponti

After his formal education, Buffa worked under Gio Ponti, whose multi-disciplinary approach to design had a profound impact on Buffa’s own methodology. This mentorship exposed him to diverse projects and cultivated a blend of modern and traditional styles, elements that would later become central to Buffa’s own designs.

Paolo Buffa (1903-1970) for Quarti Trumeau cabinet, circa 1945
Paolo Buffa (1903-1970) for Quarti 
Trumeau cabinet, circa 1945

Antonio Cassi Ramelli

Paolo Buffa opened his own firm alongside Antonio Cassi Ramelli, a partnership that proved fruitful. Cassi Ramelli’s expertise in engineering complemented Buffa’s artistic designs, making for a productive collaboration.

Signature Style

Buffa’s designs were a sublime fusion of the old and the new. Using low-profile, rectilinear forms and hardwood materials, his furniture designs are classics in the realm of mid-century aesthetics. The use of ornate motifs alongside sleek, modern lines is a testament to Buffa’s ability to balance contrasting design elements.

1948 Salon des Artistes Decorateurs

In 1948, Buffa presented his works at the Salon des Artistes Decorateurs in Paris, a platform that showcased the finest in European decorative art and design. His exhibits at the Salon garnered critical acclaim, establishing his reputation on an international stage.

Legacy and Contributions

Paolo Buffa passed away in 1970 in Milan, but not before leaving an indelible mark on Italian design. He was named one of the country’s most important designers, and his pieces remain coveted by collectors and museums alike.


Paolo Buffa’s contributions to mid-century Italian furniture design are irrefutable. His designs remain a touchstone for any study of the period, embodying the synthesis of tradition and modernity that marked the era. Buffa’s work reminds us that innovation often involves looking to the past as much as imagining the future.


Fiell, C., & Fiell, P. (2017). Design of the 20th Century. Taschen.

Ponti, L. (2009). Gio Ponti: The Complete Work, 1923-1978. MIT Press.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.