Cesare "Joe" Colombo (Milan, 1930-1971) was an artist, architect , furniture, product and interior designer who was essential to Italian design in the 1960s. It was in Milan, his native city, that he suddenly died of a heart attack at the early age of forty-one. A short life devoted to a particularly prolific career, the designer created a considerable amount of work renewing forms, materials and uses.
As for his training, Joe Colombo studied painting and sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Milan, where he dedicated his time to painting, sculpture and drawing, among other things. Later, in 1962, he focused entirely on design and set up his own studio. One of his first creations, the acrylic lamp, with a transparent "C" shaped body, was awarded in 1964. He also designed futuristic and functional furniture and objects. Throughout the 1960s he collaborated with leading publishers such as Kartell, O-Luce and Zanotta. Many of his works are still exhibited in museums around the world and the artist is the subject of regular retrospectives, studies and exhibitions.
During the 1960s, the designer mainly worked on the creation of furniture that stood DASsout for being easily modular, flexible and practical, being able to be transported and adapted to the needs of its user. Focused on a "global" design, cells or units, where the elements of the furniture transcend space and architecture. An example of this is the "Cabriolet Bed", a bedside cabinet consisting of a bed covered with a sliding roof and equipped with a dressing table, mirror and stereo. This "cell" is completed by a day "unit", called Rotoliving, a multifunctional element that evolves with daily needs: it can be used as a coffee table, dining table, bar or bar cabinet. In this way, Joe Colombo is moving towards a way of design that helps the user to gain space and time. Some of the Italian designer's most famous works include the "Elda" armchair (1963), the "Continental Library" (1965), the "Universal " (1967) and "Tube" chairs (1969) and the "Chariot Boby" (1969).
He participated in the XIV Milan Triennial, exhibiting some interior design proposals. In 1964 he won the gold medal at the Milan Triennial with the acrylic table lamp, now part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Philadelphia. In 1972, shortly after his death, his project for a global furniture unit was exhibited at the exhibition “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” held at MOMA in New York, realised by ELCO - FIARM, Boffi, Ideal - Standard, with Sormani's assistance. In 1984, a retrospective of his work was held at the Musée d'Art Moderne de Villeneuve. Later, in 2005, the Milan Triennial hosted the retrospective Joe Colombo Inventing the Future.
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