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Marco Zanuso

Marco Zanuso (1916 - 2001) was an Italian architect and designer whose innovative use of modern materials and sculptural forms helped to define modern Italian design.


Zanuso was born in Milan and studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, establishing his own design studio in 1945. He became editor of the influential design periodicals Domus and then Casabella, using these magazines to promote the energetic, democratic and innovative modern design that was his hallmark.


In 1957 Zanuso embarked on a partnership with German designer Richard Sapper, producing designs ranging from a stackable plastic childrens chair to the first wholly transistor television set and a folding telephone that was one of the first to place the dial and earpiece on the same handheld unit. Combining elegant form and technological innovation, these designs transformed mass-produced consumer products though use of sculptural shapes and colour and innovative modern materials.


In 1948 Zanuso was commissioned by Arflex to design a range of seating. Arflex had been founded by the Pirelli company to explore how new developments in foam rubber technology could be applied to the furniture market. Zanuso immediately saw the potential of this material, commenting: "One could revolutionalise not only the system of upholstery but also the structural manufacturing and formal potential... Our prototypes acquired visually exciting and new contours ... with industrial standards that were previously unimaginable."


Zanuso produced a range of furniture designs for Arflex, including the Lady chair which won first prize at the 1951 Milan Triennale. 


As an architect Zanuso designed housing, factory and office buildings in Italy, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa. He served as a member of the city planning authority in Milan and oversaw the renovation of the Teatro Fossati and the construction of the Piccolo Teatro in the city. He also taught architecture and design at the Politecnico di Milano and was President of the Italian Association of Industrial Design. 


In 1972 Zanuso and Sapper designed a series of modular stacking dwellings for the New Domestic Landscape exhibition at MOMA, and many of Zanuso's designs are represented in the museum's permanent collection.

Read Marco Zanuso's obituary.


Marco Zanuso