Marco Zanuso (14/05/191611/07/2001)
Marco Zanuso was one of a group of Italian designers from Milan who shaped postwar Italian design. Having trained in architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, he opened his own design office in 1945. From the beginning of his career, at Domus where he served as the editor from 1947–49 and at Casabella where he was editor from 1952–56, he helped to establish the theories and ideals of the energetic Modern Design movement. As professor of architecture, design and town planning at the Politecnico from the late 1940s until the 1980s, and as one of the founding members of the ADI in the 1950s, he had a distinct influence over numerous designers in Italy.
In 1957 Zanuso joined forces with the German designer Richard Sapper. One of their first projects was a small, stackable child's chair (1961) in non-reinforced plastic. This piece was light, functional and playful, and it played a key role in convincing people that plastic was a viable and appropriate material for the modern home. Zanuso and Sapper were hired in 1959 as consultants by Brionvega, an Italian electronics company. Here, they designed a series of radios and televisions that became enduring icons of an aesthetic known as 'techno-functionalism'. Their rounded, compact and portable Doney 14 (1962) was the first true transistor television. They also designed the successful folding Grillo telephone for Siemens (1966). This was one of the first phones to put the dial and the earpiece on the same unit.
Zanuso's career covers a broad spectrum from early experiments in bent metal to luxurious furniture design and sleek industrial design in plastic. A true pioneer when it came to materials, he gained widespread international renown. Some of his first work to be shown outside Italy, was at the Low-Cost Furniture competition sponsored by the MoMA in 1948. His design featured a metal frame chair that used a breakthrough method to join the fabric seat to the frame. In 1948 Pirelli opened a new division, Arflex, to design seating with foam rubber upholstery, and they commissioned Zanuso to produce their first models. His Antropus chair came out in 1949, followed by the Lady chair, which won first prize at the 1951 Milan Triennale.
His designs are now exhibited in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Triennale Milano, Triennale Tokyo, the Vitra Museum, the Arflex Museum and the Kartell Museum.