What is Italian design?
The motherland of art-level furniture is the same country that gave us Da Vinci, the tailoring of Gucci, Pucci, and Fiorucci and some of the finest super cars on the planet. Having a piece of Italian design is akin to having a piece of art or sculpture in your house. To own and display this work is a statement of staunch individualism. We present the heavyweight designers, brands and items that typify Italian design. Join us in celebrating them.
Creator of iconic furniture and lighting with a nod to pop art and industrial design
Castiglioni’s infusion of wit into domestic objects like lamps and stools helped establish Italy as a leader in sophisticated modern design after World War II. He loved everyday objects and seeing in them what others couldn’t. The Arco, one of his most popular - and most copied - lamps of all time, was inspired by the modern street lamp. The chrome ball shade, suspended seven feet from its marble base on an arch of steel, was a canny solution to hanging a lamp in a room without making a hole in the ceiling. Today, it’s the perennial rock star of floor lamps.
He worked as a team with his brother Pier Giacomo until Pier’s death in 1968. They were a team and their designs are not attributed to either one of them.
Designer who fuses the artisanal and industrial
Spanish by birth and Italian by choice, Urquiola attended the University of Architecture at Madrid and Milan Polytechnic. At the latter, Achille Castiglioni oversaw her graduate thesis. Perhaps more than any other designer working today, Urquilo fuses the artisanal and the industrial. She is a well-known representative of eclecticism. Be it tiles, furniture, lighting, fabrics, chairs or rugs for the leading design houses, her products skilfully combine style, patterns and materials, which inspire curiosity.
She opened her own studio in Milan in 2001, and, today, works in product, interior design and architecture.
Extraordinary artist, sculptor and furniture designer
An Italian born American artist, sculptor and modern furniture designer, Bertoia studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where he met both Florence Schust (Knoll) and Charles Eames. Both proved to be instrumental in his design life. With Eames, he developed his signature moulded plywood chairs. Later at Knoll, he utilised his metalwork skills and turned industrial sculpted metal rods into ergonomic design classics. This is seen best in several chairs he designed for the company including the Bertoia Bird Chair, part of his artistic 1952 seating collection that won him the award for the American Designer of the Year in 1955.
Knoll historian Brian Lutz once said “Bertoia’s paintings were better than his sculptures. And his sculptures were better than his furniture. And his furniture was absolutely brilliant.
A designer who combined new forms of modernism with traditional artisanship
Having studied an architect degree at the respected Milan Polytechnic, Albini set up his own interior design studio in 1930. His work helped herald in a wave of furniture design that successfully combined the new forms of modernism with a more traditional artisanship. He began showing his work in the Milan Triennials of the thirties and was part of a 1946 exhibit of furniture in which the items addressed the problem of designing for small spaces. His featured several stacking and folding chairs. However, the pieces of furniture that became the icons of his career were produced primarily in the fifties. They are notably the Margherita and Gala chairs made of woven cane. Today, he is considered to be the most important of the Italian neo-rationalist designers.
Sign up for our emails and we'll deliver exclusive content direct to your inbox covering all things design. From new arrivals and limited editions, to leading design events, promotions and more - you'll be kept firmly in the loop.
Thanks for signing up to Nest. We will keep you up-to-date with all of our latest offers, stories, new releases and events. Look out for your 10% off promo code in your inbox.