Willy Rizzo (19282013)
Born in Naples, Willy Rizzo moved to France with his mother in the 1930s. His passion for photography began very early, and his career as a photographer developed fast, leading to an illustrious 20-year collaboration with Paris Match which began in 1948.
Unusually, furniture design sprang from his first career, which provided him with a ready-made celebrity client base. His original venture into furniture design began in Rome, inspired by a visit to a hair salon on the Piazza di Spagna in 1966. The hairdresser’s knowledge of local real estate led to him signing a six-month lease on an abandoned commercial apartment, barely habitable and without running water. Rizzo quickly set about turning the empty office into a living space, complete with brown and gold walls and custom-designed sofas, coffee tables, consoles and storage units made by local artisans also suggested by the hairdresser. Clients flooded in and the space acted as a template for the majority of his commissions to come. While Rizzo adhered to the modernist principles of functionality and simplified forms, but deliberately avoided mass production, modern materials and industrial design, focusing instead on traditional materials and craftsmanship, In 2010, at the age of 82, he opened his first gallery in Paris with the help of his wife, Elsa and his son, Willy Rizzo, Jr. His furniture is now widely exhibited, notably in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.