Dear Joe Colombo, you taught us about the future
on this occasion Milan Design Week 2022presented by GAM Modern Art Gallery in Milan Dear Joe Colombo, you taught us about the future Curated by Ignazia Favata. From May 24th to September 4th, exhibition Dedicated to this Italian industrial designer, focusing on his wide range of work, and his constant progress and interest in new forms and ideas. The exhibition showcases a variety of materials from Colombo’s work – including the iconic Boby storage unit, The Tube Chairand spider table light – showcasing his irrepressible imagination and the strong imprint it has left on the design world today.
Image © Ignazia Favata-Studio Joe Colombo (also head portrait)
prophet of design
Joe Colombo (1930-1971) was one of the most iconic Italian designers of the 20th century. Known by many as a “prophet of design”, he is known for creating design and the modularity and functionality of furniture between art and industry. In Dear Joe Colombo, you taught us about the future, GAM Gallery of Modern Art (see more here) presents original prototypes, sketches, models and photographs, tracing the rapid development of Colombo’s short life and conveying a strong impression of his immense productivity.
The itinerary begins with the designer’s first experience in the 50s with Movimento Nucleare, the avant-garde art movement founded by Enrico Baj and Sergio Dangelo. In fact, the exhibition includes a cross-section of Colombo’s Nuclear City (1952), in which we can see a futuristic residential development with multiple underground levels for transportation, warehouses, retail functions and other services.
Image © Ignazia Favata-Studio Joe Colombo
The exhibition delves into Joe Colombo’s personal life and also tells how his father’s death and his involvement in the family business led him to abandon the art world. This experience has proven to be crucial for designers, who have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with new construction and production techniques, as well as new plastic materials. A few years later, he sold the family business and opened his first studio in Milan, devoting himself to industrial design and mass production.
Colombo’s designer career began around 1962, and in just a few years he created many of his most recognizable designs.He also started a series of fruitful collaborations with important companies such as cartelSanotta, Stirnovo, Alessi and Rosenthal, most of his designs are still in production today.
Joe Colombo, Elda per Longhi Spa, 1963. Codice 0129, Courtesy of Longhi Spa
The exhibition continues to reveal Colombo’s experience in the 60s, beginning in 1964 when the Continental Hotel in Platamona, Sardinia, received the In-Arch Award for the methacrylate false ceiling. In addition, it showcases the first acrylic lamp he designed for O-Luce, which he won a gold medal at the 13th Milan Triennale.
Colombo’s abstract abilities developed during the first years of his activity, while his subsequent concrete abilities developed during his work with his father’s firm. Skills and characteristics allow him to come up with objects with new shapes and materials, as well as innovative concepts that reflect future life. His ability to escape from the built environment, his fickle imagination, and his passion for mechanics and ergonomics and psychological research have led him to create radically innovative projects such as programmable living systems, multifunctional monoblocs, Boffi’s MiniKitchen and Box 1 are La Linea. His innovative works also include the Habitat Futuribili Visiona 1 for Bayer, the overall furniture unit for MOMA or his residence in Via Argelati in Milan.
Joe Colombo, Acrilica per OLUCE srl, 1962. Codice 0260, image courtesy of Oluce srl
Joe Colombo, Spiders of OLUCE srl, 1965. Codex 0061
Joe Colombo, Mini Coupé based on OLUCE srl, 1967. Codice 0265, image courtesy of Oluce srl