European Design

Just as the other war-ravaged countries of Europe found their way back from the brink of economic ruin, countries such as Italy emerged with prospects for recovery during the late 1940s. Its pre-war design strengths grew in maturity and by the 1950s, a new vigour had propelled Italy to be one of the most dynamic design centres in the world. Luminaries of pre-war innovation such as Gio Ponti took up the challenge to reconstruct the country. Italy’s reputation for high standards of craftsmanship was well established: the automotive industry was highly innovative and the country’s glass and ceramics were world-renowned. Ponti had even been the art director of ceramics manufacturer Richard Ginori from 1923 to 1930. However, functional, mass-produced construction systems and domestic items became symbolic of Italy’s post-war renaissance. Designers such as Marco Zanuso  and the brothers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni pushed the boundaries of industrial design, making it an acceptable form of consumerism. Modernity and comfort boosted the free-market appeal of everything from washing machines to furniture, lighting to decorative objects.

Synthesis 56 typist chair

The Synthesis 45 Typist Chair

Like the much-coveted lipstick red typewriter launched with Olivetti on Valentine's Day in 1970, the Synthesis 45 series of 1971-3 appealed to the new, cool office crowd. Dubbed“45" as a reference to ...

UP5 Donna by Gaetano Pesce

UP5 Donna by Gaetano Pesce

Dressed in bold colours or a Bridget Riley stripe, Pesce's Donna celebrated a more liberated woman as psychedelia and women's lib started to inspire fashion and interiors.