Vico Magistretti, a life between architecture and design

One of the outstanding designers of his generation, Vico Magistretti was also a brilliant teacher and one of the architects who planned the post-war Italian city.

Born in Milan in 1920, the son of an architect, Ludovico ‘Vico’ Magistretti was one of the key figures for the reconstruction of postwar Italy, a highly successful architect whose projects, still largely undervalued, stand out even in the city of our days for their humanist traits and their green spaces.

After graduating, Magistretti came under the influence of Ernesto Nathan Rogers, working with him on experimental working-class neighborhoods and, more in general, on the influence of the postwar context as a determinant of style in the ’40s and ’50s.

It is only by the end of the ’50s that Vico Magistretti approached the world of product design when he saw the possibilities for a new series of mass-produced goods.

Despite his extraordinary success and the multitude of awards as a designer, in the ’60s Magistretti went back to architecture as he was involved, along with his friend Luigi Caccia Dominioni, in the creation of Milan San Felice, the first out-of-town, middle-class neighborhood.

It is precisely this aptitude for the project of bourgeois living solutions that led him to concentrate, throughout his career as a designer, only on home objects and decor for the middle-class.

Vico Magistretti - portrait
Ludovico ‘Vico’ Magistretti is one of the iconic personalities contributing to the reconstruction of postwar Italy – ©Oluce

Carimate Chair – 1960, Cassina

A best seller for years, the Carimate chair was born inside the project of a Golf Club House that Magistretti was designing in the same years in Carimate, near Como.

The combination of different elements like straw, smooth lines and bright color results in a chair that is a brilliant mix of rural simplicity and urban sophistication, besides being Magistretti’s first huge design success and the beginning of his long-term collaboration with Cassina.

Vico Magisretti - Carimate
Designed for a Golf Club House near Como, Carimate chair combines straw, smooth lines and bright color – ©Archivio Vico Magistretti

Eclisse Lamp – 1965, Artemide

According to Vico Magistretti, it is the beauty of its concept that makes the Eclisse lamp beautiful: drawing inspiration from Jean Valkjean’s lantern in Les Misérables, by juxtaposing three semi-circular shells Eclisse produces the effect of a solar eclipse.

Awarded with the Compasso D’Oro in 1967, this huge marketing success by Artemide is now part of the permanent collections of museums across the globe, including the NY MoMA.

Passionate about iconic lighting design? Don’t miss the story of Foscarini, a brand that in a few decades became one of the key players in the lighting design industry.

Vico Magisretti - Eclisse
Eclisse Lamp, awarded with the Compasso D’Oro in 1967 and today part of various permanent collections worldwide – ©Artemide

Maralunga Sofa – 1973, Cassina

When Cesare Cassina punched the prototype of this sofa, breaking the backrest, Magistretti was inspired with the solution for a seat that is open to two possible uses – conversational and relaxing at the same time – by means of a bike chain embedded in the adjustable foam cushions.

Vico Magisretti - Maralunga
Maralunga Sofa fulfills conversational and relaxing needs at the same time – ©Cassina

Atollo Lamp – 1977, Oluce

During the 70’s Vico Magistretti was appointed art director of Oluce, the Italian lighting company that in 1979 was awarded of the Compasso D’Oro for Magistretti’s design of Atollo, a sculptural lamp with a striking balance between the base and the perfect semi-sphere atop.

Vico Magisretti - Atollo
A sculptural lamp, Atollo was designed for Oluce in 1977 – ©Oluce

Nuvola Rossa Bookcase – 1977, Cassina

In the same year, Magistretti designed the Nuvola Rossa bookcase, a widely imitated, iconic, timeless piece whose simple esthetic is the perfect example of a simplified function achieved through the interaction of linear shapes.

Eager to discover more about Cassina? Find out how the Italian furniture brand became a made in Italy excellence!

Vico Magisretti - Nuvola Rossa
Nuvola Rossa Bookcase is a timeless piece featuring interacting linear shapes – ©Cassina
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