The roots of Italian design and modern architecture

The roots of Italian design and modern architecture

Quite simply, the Italian production of design was born from the harmony of architects and artisans. These two cannot survive without each other. ExpoinCittà is devoted to the appreciation of designers and proudly presents renowned Italian designer: Franco Albini. In order to diffuse these values the Fondazione Franco Albini (Franco Albini Foundation) was conceived 30 years after the death of the homonymous architect or artisan (as he preferred to call himself), a figure that many have investigated, but who has yet to be understood his totality. Check out my exclusive tour of Fondazioone Franco Albini.

Fondazione Albini has been created from the original studio of Franco Albini, the 20th century Italian designer and architect who was active in transforming Milan. 

“The Italian production of design originated from the conjunction between architects and handcrafts. Many big companies started from here. This is typical especially in the Italian situation. Now it’s completely different of course”, Marco Albini said.

The tour included insights into:

  • Franco Albini and his working method - Evidences and interviews from the architecture world.
  • The earliest projects for the underground in Milan. From the earliest hypothesis studied in the XIX century to the actual project. The construction of the Red Line and the advancements of the architectural project.
  • A deep description of the original planning sketches together with vintage pictures
  • Its international success: a lot of examples on how, both directly and indirectly, the project carried on in Milan in 1964 immediately became a standard for the setting up and the signage in subways all over the world.
  • Contemporary design objects, which celebrates the Underground of Milan. A collection of objects specifically realized or reworked in occasion of the anniversary, including the renowned "Tre Pezzi" (Three Pieces) by Cassina.

“In the early days of Italian design and architecture, architects had enough time to study solutions, problems and directly meet with and find artisans and craftsmen who were ready to produce a model prototype. Now, we cannot do this. Today, you must have a commission from an industry. The production today is made only through drawings. In the past it was made by actions, relationships and working with the factory and artisans – there were no restrictions”, Marco Albini said.

Franco Albini was influenced by Mies van der Rohe. Minimalism was of upmost importance in his pieces and designs. Albini believed that “we are able to diffuse ideas more from our works than from ourselves”. His design pieces had the ability to unite handcrafted production with serialization. His urban planning mirrored the needs of the times. 

 

5 Franco Albini significant designs:

1. Milan Metropolitan Lines 1 & 2 / Subway Stations (1962-63)

The metro project was rich in implications. It was not only a question of turning casual, non-organized spaces into homogenous ones, but was an underground project which energized the urban fabric and an icon that represented Milan. In terms of creation, the means were particular: on one hand, it needed to have the robustness of railroad installations, on the other, the constructive independence of a concrete shell “finish”. 

 

2. Margherita Armchair (1950-52)

Each piece of Albini’s furniture had its own identity. He incorporated the landscape of the object in his designs. Margherita circa 1951 made from traditional Italian rattan material. This armchair became an iconic object in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It becomes a piece of furniture with personality and while using unconventional objects and materials. 

 

3. Mitragliera Lamp (1938-1940)

 

4. Armchair PL 19, “Three Pieces” (1959)

 

5. Luisa Chair (1955)

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