Triennale di Milano presents the exhibition celebrating the centenary of Vico Magistretti’s birth

Initially planned for 2020, the exhibition traces the career of the Milanese architect and designer through architecture and industrial design. In collaboration with Fondazione Vico Magistretti, it is curated by Gabriele Neri with exhibition design by Lorenzo Bini/Binocle.

Vico Magistretti and Rosario Messina with the prototype of the Nathalie bed, 1978. Photo courtesy Flou

Summarizing the work of Vico Magistretti is neither easy nor quick. Not only because he ranged from furniture to architecture with great ease, but precisely because of his never-ending curiosity, expressed in his experimentation with materials in the 1960s and 1970s. Or in Rosso Vico, the color that gave life to industrial plastic as well as to traditional wood.

Painting by Renato Guttuso, Sedia, libri e bicchiere, 1969, with the Carimate chair, 1960. Courtesy Galleria Mazzoleni/Triennale

A real innovator, also thanks to the support of visionary companies and entrepreneurs, there is no area of the home in which Magistretti did not experiment, always with excellent results. In fact, his designs were natural and spontaneous icons. Like the Carimate wood and straw chair, in Rosso Vico, from 1959. Or the Eclisse lamp and the lesser-known Selene chair, both from the 1960s, both in plastic, both for Artemide.

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Selene chair, designed for Artemide in 1966. Photo: Gianluca Di Ioia, Triennale

Vico Magistretti, designer and architect

Vico Magistretti worked with all the best and most famous Italian companies. With Flou he invented the textile bed, Nathalie, which is over 40 years old but is aging very well. For Schiffini he designed one of the first kitchens entirely in aluminum back in 1999. For De Padova he created countless products, which are still in production today. And for Cassina, among others, he designed the Maralunga sofa in 1973, one of the oldest best-selling pieces of upholstered furniture.

Discover Nathalie, the bed with the perfect bow, winner of the Compasso d’Oro Product Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020

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Eclisse lamp, designed by Vico Magistretti for Artemide in 1966. Photo: Gianluca Di Ioia, Triennale

Subtly ironic, he was aware of the power of design and loved his profession and the endless possibilities it offered to redesign everyday life. And he actually did it as it can be seen in his extensive legacy of everyday objects, from the bedside lamp to the table lamp, up to revisited canvas garden chair, but also one-piece plastic tables and chairs.

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In the foreground, Piccy armchair, produced by Fumagalli in 1946, reissued by Campeggi in 2011. Photo: Gianluca Di Ioia, Triennale

Discover Nathalie, the bed with the perfect bow, winner of the Compasso d’Oro Product Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020

A Milanese architect with a British spirit

Born and raised in Milan, Vico Magistretti was a very representative member of the Milanese middle class: cultured, curious, very Milanese and very international. Thanks to the historical period in which he was born, he could take advantage of the post-war reconstruction to leave his mark on Milanese architecture. Red is also found in some of his buildings, such as on the façades of the Piazza San Marco building, one of Milan’s post-war icons.

Building in Piazza San Marco, 1969-71, the façade with the roof garden. Photo: Federico Balestrini, Ordine degli Architetti di Milano

He loved the British spirit, he taught in England and the country reciprocated with the Gold Medal by SIAD – Society of Industrial Artists and Designers. He was also a lecturer and an honorary member of the Royal College of Art.

The exhibition, divided into themed sections, displays products, drawings, sketches and images of his countless projects, preserved and reorganized by Fondazione Vico Magistretti, which also organizes visits to the studio-museum, which was always the same, on Via Conservatorio.

Vico Magistretti – Architetto milanese – Triennale di Milano 11 May – 12 September 2021