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Vico Magistretti

Vico Magistretti

Italy (1920-2006)
Headshot of designer.

For over 50 years, Vico Magistretti represented the rational face of post-war design, seeking timeless solutions to technical and formal problems. Based his whole life in Milan, he consistently produced designs that are as startling, spontaneous and original as they are logical and elegant. After studying at the Milan Polytechnic, Magistretti worked as an architect in his father's company and began his career as a designer creating low-cost furniture for the inexpensive apartments built to house the homeless during World War II.

Magistretti designs produced simple, portable, practical furniture – qualities that were to appear again and again in his work during the 1950s. In 1959, he was commissioned to design furnishings for the Carimate golf clubhouse. The chair designed for Cassina as part of this project, changed the course of his career. The Carimate chair soon became a familiar sight in restaurants and cafés throughout Italy and Europe.

From the early 1960's on, Magistretti devoted his talents to furniture and lighting design for companies such as Cassina, Artemide and O-Luce. His furniture was comfortable and informal, color and playful. As with Marco Zanuso and Joe Colombo, Magistretti's experiments with plastic changed consumers' perception of plastic. Once dismissed as a cheap, flimsy material, it became a stylish, sophisticated one. The Selene chair (1969) was a simple design in sturdy ABS plastic with an S shaped curve in the leg that strengthened its structure. It was produced by Artemide in bold, bright colors and rapidly enjoyed international success.

Magistretti was, above all, a designer of great integrity and humanity. His elegant design solutions were always realized in the light of technological, economic and other practical concerns. Throughout his career, he was an ambassador for design that does not perpetuate the "throw away" consumer culture.

Artist photo from 1000 Chairs courtesy of Taschen

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