Franco Albini: portrait

Franco Albini was born in Robbiate, a small town in the nearby of the city of Como, in Italy. He is often considered to be the most important of the Italian neo-rationalist designers.
He studied architecture at the Milan Polytechnic, graduating in 1929, his work helped herald in a wave of furniture design that successfully combined the new forms of modernism with a more traditional artisanship.
Much of his furniture was designed to make use of the inexpensive raw materials of the area, in the post war years when other materials were scarce. His work, both in architecture and design, displays a commitment to a rigorous craftsmanship and elegance built on a minimalist aesthetic, unencumbered by extraneous ornamentation.
Albini started out working in the studio of Giņ Ponti. He started his own studio in 1930 where he collaborated frequently with Franca Helg. One of his pioneering pieces from this period was a 1939 radio made of glass which was innovative in the way it was designed to reveal the internal components of the machine. He began showing his work in the Milan Triennials of the 1930s and was part of a 1946 exhibit of furniture in which the items addressed the problem of designing for small spaces and featured a number of stacking and folding chairs.
The pieces of furniture that became the icons of his career were produced primarily in the fifties: his "Margherita" and "Gala" chairs (1950), made of woven cane, the "Fiorenza" armchair for Arflex (1952), the "Luisa" chair in 1955 and the 1956 "Rocking chaise".
During the sixties, his work was geared more towards industrial design and larger architecture projects.
During this period he also produced several lamps for Arteluce. Throughout his career he was the recipient of three Compasso d'Oro awards.
Amog his projects should be mentioned the reconstruction of Musei di Palazzo Bianco (Genova, 1951), VI Triennale (Milan 1936), palaces of Rinascente (Rome, 1957). Albini was always attentive to the sense of local traditions and character of the architectural environment in which he had to work, using the appropriate materials or technology. He was a co-director together with C.Palanti of "Casabella-Costruzioni" in 1945-1946 and conducted important activity as a designer. As an urbanist he collaborated on the project of "Milano-Verde" (Milan-Green) in 1938 and on a regular plan of Reggio Emilia in 1947-1948.