Vico Magistretti: The Living Environment Review - Celebrating One Of Italy's Most Important Designers


In a joint effort with Fondazione Vico Magistretti, the first project in the West Coast to feature the work of Vico Magistretti, “Vico Magistretti: The Living Environment” celebrates the well-known Italian designer who was awarded the most important Italian award for design, Compasso d'Oro, for the Eclisse lamp in 1967, and for the Maralunga sofa and the Atollo table lamp in 1979.


Lyndon Lamp (Oluce 1977)


An installation of the designer’s vintage works has been assembled at the residence of Giuseppe Perrone, Consul General of Italy in Los Angeles to create a domestic environment entirely designed by Magistretti, enabling guests to experience firsthand Magistretti's signature vision of "creating the highest beauty at the lowest cost.” In addition, a re-creation of the designer’s office is being presented at the Italian Cultural Institute in Los Angeles.


Giuseppe Perrone, Consul General of Italy in Los Angeles


Considered by many to be one of the greatest Italian designers of the 20th century, Vico Magistretti designed his first object in 1960, the Carimate chair, which the architect created it to decorate a golf club he had designed.  The chair was brought into production by Cassina, which in subsequent years produced many other Magistretti-designed objects including the Maralunga sofa, which even after 30 or 40 years, is still one of the most important objects in the Cassina catalog.


Caori Table (Gavina 1961) and Maralunga Sofa (Cassina 1973), Winner of Compasso d'Oro in 1979


In addition, Magistretti designed a set of lamps for Artemide in the 1960’s and 1970’s, including the extremely famous Eclisse.  This lamp conveys a sense of the work of Magistretti because it is very simple, just three hemispheres, but according to Rosanna Pavoni, the Scientific Director of Fondazione Vico Magistretti, Magistretti believed that simplicity is the most difficult thing to realize.


Eclisse Table Lamps (Artemide 1966), winner of Compasso d'Oro in 1967


Another important piece designed by Magistretti is the Selene chair, which vied with the Panton Chair and Joe Colombo’s Universale to become the world’s first plastic chair. Pavoni explains that this chair, which was designed without any metal elements, best represents the simplicity of Magistretti.  This is because the structure of the “S” section of the leg alone provides enough strength. 

Selene Chair (Artimide 1969)


Pavoni also pointed to the Silver chair as a representation of the essence of the designer because the chair’s very particular square pattern was inspired by a little basket for eggs that he saw in a market in Tokyo and, as Pavoni explained, Magistretti loved to say, “Look at usual things with unusual eyes.” 


The Silver Chair designed by Magistretti as an homage to Bauhaus


The exhibition also presents some of Magistretti’s original drawings displayed alongside the actual objects to illustrate the collaboration between the designer and some of the most important Italian design companies like Artemide, De Padova, Flou, Oluce, and Schiffini, as well as to highlight the creative process that resulted in the production of the objects.


Magistretti's Original Design Sketch for the Eclisse Table Lamp


Magistretti's Original Design Sketch for the Selene Chair


In his introduction to the installation, the Consul General said, “Magistretti managed to combine elegant style with function.  He loved lines that are very simple, but yet it is a simplicity that is the outcome of investigation.   These pieces are beautiful in that they are timeless; many of them were designed decades ago, and yet they are still very current and modern.”


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